Earlier this month, an Arizona woman organized a Clown Lives Matter peace walk "to show clowns are not psycho killers," according to an event flyer. The October 15 event in Tucson ultimately was canceled because of backlash.
"With the numorous [sic] death threats and harassment its [sic] sad to say we have canceled what was supposed to be a fun peaceful walk," event organizer Nikki Sinn wrote on Facebook. "We apologize to everyone who was excited to go and have a good night of fun."
The goal of the family-friendly walk was "to take something that has been made scary" and bring it back to "something fun and silly," she said. She also hoped to bring "awareness to one of the oldest professions."
Many of the event's critics lambasted it for trivializing the Black Lives Matter movement. Rev. Reginald Walton, the chairman of Black Lives Matter Phoenix, told ABC that he was glad the event had been canceled, as it's "insensitive" to "the serious problem we are facing in this country" with police brutality.
Jordan Jones, a professional clown actor at Screamland Farms in Maryland who founded the movement Clown Lives Matter last month, insists that the movement was meant to be "a positive thing."
Jones, also known as Snuggles, says he's seen his own share of fear-related backlash. After participating in his local annual Halloween parade for ten years, he says the organizing committee denied his application this year. "They banned me and all clowns," he says, for safety concerns. "A lot of people were upset about that."
He attended the parade, but did not dress as a clown.
Nevertheless, Jones considers his Clown Lives Matter movement a success. He says his message went viral, reaching as far away as Australia, and several media outlets, including Time magazine and an England-based university student newspaper, interviewed him. He was also featured in a video by a popular YouTuber. "A lot of people took my message as something serious," he says.
Others disagree. "We really are hoping that people understand the message is not to be taken lightly or usurped, because [Black Lives Matter] is a serious, serious issue," Rev. Walton said.