Catch up on the Case: Insane Clown Posse Versus the FBI

June 23, 2014

This afternoon, we're in court where a federal judge will hear arguments in our lawsuit with the Insane Clown Posse. The lawsuit challenges the FBI’s erroneous and arbitrary designation of all fans of ICP, known as Juggalos, as a “hybrid” criminal gang.

Haven't heard of the case? Catch up on the basics below!

What's a Juggalo?

The plaintiffs in this case are called Juggalos. They are the devoted fans of the Detroit music duo, Insane Clowne Posse. Juggalos not only bond around the music of ICP, but they also bond around a philosophy of life where everyone is accepted into the Juggalo family, where they are supported and loved for who they are—no matter what their racial, ethnic or economic background, or the problems they have had to face in life.

The Juggalos call themselves family and they are a family in the same way that Deadheads or Phishheads or Jimmy Buffett’s Parrotheads are family. However, unlike Deadheads, Phishheads or Parrotheads, the FBI, in a 2011 Gang Assessment, decided to brand the Juggalos as a “loosely-affiliated hybrid gang.”

Read about the Juggalos in this case

How does the FBI's gang designation impact Juggalos?

When the FBI branded the entire ICP fan base as a criminal gang, men and women who simply liked a musical group suffered. Police and border officials stopped ICP fans, subjecting them to closer scrutiny as potential gang members. Another client was told he would not be accepted in the Army because his ICP tattoo was a gang symbol.

What's happening in court today?

The hearing will probably last about an hour and, almost certainly, the judge will "take under advisement," meaning that it is highly unlikely that he will issue an oral ruling from the bench. Typically the judge will issue a written opinion in 2-6 weeks, but the timing is completely within the judge's discretion.

Most of the argument will address whether the Juggalos have "standing" to challenge the gang designation and whether there is a valid claim alleged under the Administrative Procedures Act—pretty technical stuff.

Read the legal complaint in this case

Why is this case important?

This is a quintessential civil liberties case about the abuse of government power and the right to express oneself without fear of government harassment.

We believe this gang designation violates the fundamental free speech and due process rights of the hundreds of thousands of Juggalos.  

Because of the face paint, there might be a tendency among some in the media to make light of this case. But this is a case that raises serious constitutional issues.

For decades, the ACLU of Michigan has stood up and defended groups who have been unjustly targeted for the isolated acts of a few—whether it be religious organizations, racial minorities or unpopular political groups. Branding the Juggalos, as a group, as a criminal gang, based on the isolated acts of a few, is similarly unconstitutional. And, whether or not people like ICP’s music or understand the Juggalos, there is no question that the Juggalos have a right to express themselves peacefully without fear of persecution.

Key News & Documents
VIDEO: Watch ICP talk about discrimination against Juggalos
Read the legal complaint
Read more about the Juggalos