Not to be confused with the Juggalo music subculture from which the gang was birthed.
|Criminal activities||Murder, extortion, drug trafficking, arson, burglary, robbery, assault|
|Allies||Bloods, Crips, Gangster Disciples, Folk Nation, Insane Cobra Nation, People Nation, Vice Lords, Aryan Brotherhood, Aryan Circle, Simon City Royals (certain sets),|
Juggalo (or Juggalette for females) is a name given to dedicated fans of the rap group Insane Clown Posse or any other Psychopathic Records artist. Juggalo subculture originated from ad hoc fan groups for horrorcore hip hop music; in recent years, criminal groups began using the name "Juggalo" and associated imagery from mainstream Juggalo culture. As a result, Juggalos have been classified as a criminal street gang by government and law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Gang Intelligence Center, and the states of Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, and Utah. Juggalo gang sets have been documented by law enforcement in at least 21 states, including those that do not recognize Juggalos as a gang at the state level.
Juggalo gangs band together under the Juggalo banner in order to engage in patterns of criminal activity. Unlike members of the general Juggalo subculture, these gangs have handbooks detailing gang ranks and responsibilities, and commit crimes for financial gain.
The National Gang Intelligence Center has also predicted that "The formation of rivalries or alliances to gangs outside of their group will allow the Juggalos to evolve into a more sophisticated criminal entity through associations with hardened, experienced gang members."
- 1 Criminal activities
- 2 Differences between criminal and non-criminal Juggalos
- 3 Reaction of artists and FBI lawsuit
- 4 Gang identifiers
- 5 Perspective of law enforcement officers and gang investigators
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
According to the National Gang Intelligence Center, there are more than one million self-proclaimed Juggalos across the United States. It is estimated that 85–90% of self-described Juggalos are peaceful, non-criminal music fans. The other 10–15% make up the Juggalo subculture's criminal element, which has been linked to numerous crimes including extortion, murder, domestic terrorism, drive-by shootings, drug trafficking, arson, burglary, armed robbery, aggravated assault, and weapon offenses, and has been documented collaborating with a wide array of street and prison gangs.
Also in 2010, a Juggalette who was not affiliated with any gang was assaulted by a new Juggalo gang called the Juggalo Killers, who knocked her unconscious before carving the letters "JK" into her chest, because they wanted to be the only group wearing Insane Clown Posse merchandise in their territory.
In August 2013, a Juggalo street gang member was arrested on charges of attempted murder, battery with a deadly weapon and possession of a controlled substance for allegedly attacking a cyclist with two meat cleavers in northeast Las Vegas, calling the man a "snitch".
In 2013, a Juggalo member was arrested for possession of weapons and explosives after allegedly forming a terrorist group called the Black Snake Militia with the intent to engage in a violent revolution and raid the local National Guard armory to obtain weapons. According to court documents, one of the members of the terrorist group became an FBI informant after realizing that the leader intended to go through with a violent terrorist act.
Rivalries and alliances with other street and prison gangs
The National Gang Intelligence Center has noted a high number of Juggalo sets with ties to the Los Angeles-based Bloods gang, although the reason why Juggalos align themselves with Bloods sets remains unclear. In at least one case, the gangs aligned because they share the same gang color (red). Bloods and Juggalos have also collaborated to commit drive-by shootings. In Utah, however, Juggalos have associated themselves with a local Crip set named the "Salt Lake Posse".
In Pennsylvania, the Bloods and Crips dominate the incarcerated Juggalo gangs and use them for recruitment. In addition, certain Juggalo gangs have allied with violent prison gangs, including the Aryan Brotherhood, Aryan Circle, 211 Crew, and Aryan Brothers Liberation.
Potential for violence
Juggalo gang members are notable for their tendency toward extremely brutal and wanton violence. Juggalo gangs generally prefer edged weapons such as hatchets, machetes, and medieval battle-axes to firearms, and said gangs have been linked to a string of grisly murders throughout the United States. According to the National Gang Intelligence Center, Juggalo gangs are a threat to the community because of their tendency for violence against law enforcement, innocent civilians, and other members of their group, and Juggalos in Colorado have become increasingly involved in violent crime, including aggravated assault and homicide.
Several law enforcement officers have commented on the Juggalo gang's tendency toward extreme violence. Arizona Department of Public Safety Detective Michelle Vasey has also expressed concern at the Juggalos high potential for violence, stating "The weapons, they prefer, obviously, hatchets ... We've got battle-axes, we've got machetes, anything that can make the most violent, gruesome wound," and "Some of the homicides we're seeing with these guys are pretty nasty, gruesome, disgusting homicides, where they don't care who's around, what's around, they're just out to kill anybody."
Outside of the United States
Differences between criminal and non-criminal Juggalos
Juggalo gang experts have stressed that not all self-proclaimed Juggalos are criminals or gang members. Detective Michelle Vasey has commented, "I don't want people to go out there and look at every Juggalo and say, 'Oh, he's a gang member, he's got a machete and he's going to slice and dice everybody.' But people need to be aware that there are huge issues that have evolved in just the last three years both in the eastern and western United States where we've got multiple individuals committing gang-related crimes, gang-motivated crimes, and they're using the name Juggalo."
According to law enforcement research, including an interview with an admitted Juggalo gang member, the Juggalo subculture has recently split into two very different groups: the music fans and the criminal street gang. Some members of the Juggalos street gang even look down on non-criminal Juggalos, considering them to be weak, and criminal Juggalo gangs have committed attacks on non-gang-related Juggalos.
These criminal Juggalo subsets are being formed by a new generation of Juggalos who are attempting to evolve the Juggalo subculture into a collection of smaller gangs or cliques.
The Juggalo subculture has several features in common with traditional gangs, including throwing hand signs, wearing matching clothing, and getting matching tattoos. However, criminal Juggalo subsets contain gang-like features that the general Juggalo population does not, including gang initiations, handbooks detailing rules and punishments for gang members, formal leadership structure, gang colors, and the tendency to engage in organized patterns of serious criminal activity.
Police officers in Sacramento have stated that while a fast-growing gang using the Juggalo name is contained within the Juggalo subculture, most Juggalos are law-abiding citizens, which makes it difficult to tell the difference between Juggalo gang members and Juggalo fans.
Reaction of artists and FBI lawsuit
The FBI's classification of Juggalos as a gang has caused confusion, resulting in many peaceful, non-criminal Juggalos being discriminated against both by police and by ordinary citizens, including at least one incident in which an innocent Juggalette was kicked out of Walmart for being a "threat". This type of discrimination, along with the fact that Hot Topic will no longer stock Psychopathic Records merchandise in states that legally consider Juggalos to be a gang, has prompted Insane Clown Posse to file a lawsuit against the FBI. In December 2012, ICP and Psychopathic Records quietly agreed to withdraw as plaintiffs in the case, and the FBI later released a report justifying their decision to classify Juggalos as a gang. However, ICP later announced that they would follow through with the lawsuit anyway. On August 23, 2013, the FBI asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit against them.
In an interview given in 2013, Shaggy 2 Dope of Insane Clown Posse addressed the Juggalo gang classification and the impending FBI lawsuit. He stated that at first he believed that the classification of Juggalos was "pretty dope" because it would afford the band a tougher image, but later changed his mind after realizing the negative repercussions of being labeled a gang, such as gang enhancements for Juggalos who commit crimes. He also expressed concern about innocent Juggalos being targeted in "Shithole, Nebraska" by MS-13 members. He argued that while some Juggalos are criminals and gang members, he does not believe that Juggalos as a whole constitute a gang.
In January 2014 Insane Clown Posse along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed suit again against the FBI. The suit aimed to have Juggalos no longer considered to be a gang and to have any "criminal intelligence information" about Juggalos destroyed. The suit was dismissed in July 2014, ruling that that band and its fans lack standing to bring the suit. The ACLU has stated that it intends to appeal the dismissal.
Gang identifiers used by Juggalo gang members include, but are not limited to:
- Gang colors, depending on the individual set, especially black, white, and red
- Psychopathic Records clothing and paraphernalia
- Tattoos related to Insane Clown Posse and Psychopathic Records, including the six "joker's card" album covers and the record label's "Hatchet Man" logo.
- Throwing gang signs
- Evil clown-themed face paint
Perspective of law enforcement officers and gang investigators
The emergence of Juggalo gang subsets has created a sharp divide between gang investigators in the United States, with some considering the entire subculture to fit the definition of a criminal gang, while others stress that the subculture's criminal element makes up only a small portion of the Juggalo population. A report released by the National Gang Intelligence Center in 2010 supports the latter assertion.
A report released by the Rocky Mountain Information Network states that, "Just because we do not understand this phenomenon fully, we can’t as gang detectives ignore it ... We in law enforcement must be willing to take that extra step in our intelligence gathering to see if we are in fact dealing with a gang member or just a crazed fan."
Detective Michelle Vasey has stated that not all Juggalos are violent or criminals, and the music is not to blame: "We can't necessarily say that [the music's] to blame. But I think it definitely does have some influences. As an officer we have to decide when we're talking to these guys, who do we need to worry about and who don't we need to worry about."
Police Lt. Scott Conley has stated, "Those involved in the criminal side of (Juggalos) cause us some concern. If they are not involved in criminal activity, they can do their own thing, as long as they haven't crossed that criminal element line ... The attraction to that music, or those people following that music, I have no problem with. When they start breeding disruption in the community, showing up in libraries to harm people with butcher knives up their sleeves, I have a problem. I have to get involved with the community."
The official web site of Montana's department of corrections contains an explanation for Juggalos' classification as a security threat group: "the Juggalos are a recognized STG group (sic) that would never classify itself as a street gang. They are more like a cult that follows mimics and idolizes the music group, Insane Clown Posse. The music encourages and condones extreme acts of violence, which some Juggalos carry out. Juggalo members paint their faces black and white, dress in black clothing, attend raves together that often end violently, and consider themselves a family."
However, some law enforcement officers have been firm in their assertion that Juggalos are a criminal group. Police watch commander Jay Mackanin of Citrus Heights has stated that, "Juggalos are a gang. I know sometimes they say they're not, but they are."
Kelly Snyder, a former Drug Enforcement Administration officer who tracks Juggalo activity across the U.S., has stated that , "It almost has the taste of a cult...The perception is that something is obviously not right here...It's not going to stop. So far they are almost committing the perfect crime."
Corrections.com, a web site for prison corrections officers, states that "This gang [Juggalos] is often thought of being comical or funny because they dress as clowns or actors but caution should be used at all times when around these individuals."
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