Yesterday, the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Insane Clown Posse's lawsuit against the FBI. The rap group claims the government has wrongfully labeled the band and their fans, a.k.a. Juggalos, a violent gang. A previous court took the FBI's side, but the appeals court has resurrected ICP's case. The rappers have promised to take their lawsuit as far as the Supreme Court. Nothing supports their accusations against the FBI more than the story of Cannibal—a Juggalo who died earlier this week when he defended a mother and her infant daughter against a violent alleged mugger in Wilmington, Delaware.
Cannibal's friends always saw him as a charitable force within the Juggalo fam. Juggalo feminist leader Rachel Paul met the rapper ten years ago in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she lives. She remembers him rapping outside Philly performance venues in the late 90s and early 2000s.
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"His Juggalo story goes back to the days when we would happily cut class just to stand out alongside the Electric Factory at 6 AM. and spit freestyle flows, rain, sleet, snow, or hail," Paul says. "Call us postal. It was a different time then, and we were just kids."
In an obituary published on Faygoluvers.net, a popular ICP fan site, she describes Cannibal, a.k.a. Thomas Cottingham, as a "Juggalo brother, problem child, fly emcee, untamed force, warrior spirit, and, in his last musical performance, winner of the 2015 Juggalo Psypher [rap contest] at this year's Gathering [of the Juggalos, Insane Clown Posse's music festival], where his standout flow and stage presence is now forever immortalized."
She found out about Cannibals death when a another juggalette called her. "Together we wept deeply for our fallen brother," Paul says. According to a police report published on Insane Clown Posse's website, Calvin Hooker, III, the suspect, walked up to a mother and her daughter, who sat in a stroller, and asked about a stolen phone. She continued walking. Realizing Hooker was allegedly still following her, she went down another block. Hooker allegedly took out a knife and chased her around a bus stop. To escape, the woman tried to climb aboard a bus with her daughter.
"A 27 year old man, identified as Thomas Cottingham, of Wilmington, intervened and tried to stop the attack of the female who was still attempting to enter the bus with her child secured in the stroller," the report says. "Calvin Hooker, III, then proceeded to stab Thomas Cottingham in the back area. Thomas Cottingham manages to get away approximately 30 feet where he collapses. Calvin Hooker, III, follows Thomas Cottingham and continued to stab him several more times in the upper torso before fleeing on foot."
The alleged killer boarded another bus. When police arrived, he allegedly refused to drop his knife. The police and Hooker then went back and forth until cops deployed "a Electronic Control Device, striking Calvin Hooker, III, causing him to drop the knife and fall to the ground where he was immediately placed into custody," according to the report." Unfortunately, authorities didn't arrive soon enough to revive Cannibal. He died defending a woman and a child.
"Cannibal—wise warrior and strange shaman—exemplified Juggalo ideals in his last moment," Paul says. "We are all family in this crazy life. And sometimes it takes a crazy, brave heart like Cannibal's to stand up for what is righteous at the ultimate cost."
If anything comes from Cannibal's death, it's proof that the the FBI and general public's stereotypes about Juggalos ring false. Cannibal's friends, like Paul, and ICP's Psychopathic Records both hope that Cannibal's story will dispel myths about the maligned subculture.
"The fact that Cannibal laid down his life for two total strangers just shows the kind of love and compassion that unites the Juggalo family," says Jason Webber, director of public relations for Psychopathic Records. "We were devastated when we heard the news about his passing because he absolutely schooled it at the Juggalo Psypher this past Gathering, and he was a truly talented rapper, as the video of the Psypher proves beyond a doubt. What I find ironic is that the Wilmington police are calling Cannibal a hero for defending an unarmed mother and her child from a robber but so many other law enforcement bodies—including the FBI—consider Juggalos a gang and public menace.
"As heroic as Cannibal's act of bravery was, Juggalos do amazing things all the time—you just never hear about them. Juggalos organize toy drives, food drives, neighborhood cleanups, all kinds of amazing shit. If there's something good to come out of this senseless tragedy, it's that now people might think twice before passing negative judgement on a Juggalo."