Psychopathic Records is located in Farmington Hills, Michigan. The recording label is owned by Insane Clown Posse. The label was formed in 1991 by the group’s leader. In a September 2015 decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals said the group “is well known for elaborate live performances and has enjoyed substantial commercial success.” The group’s lyrics are often polar opposites: harsh language and themes that deal with social, political, religious and counter-culture issues to what has been described as “hopeful, life-affirming themes about the wonders of life.” Hip-hop artists like Busta Rhymes, Ice Cube and even MC Hammer have been associated with the group.
In 1994, during a live performance of the group’s song “The Juggala,” Insane Clown Posse founder Violent J (born as Joseph Bruce) referred to the audience before him as “Juggalos.” The fans immediately embraced their name. The group loved the fan response and began referring to themselves, their families, friends, and all their fans as Juggalos. The Juggalos fan-base exploded following the group’s 1995 release of its third album, Riddle Box.
In 2000, Insane Clown Posse established a five-day music festival called “The Gathering of the Juggalos” which is staged annually in Thornville, Ohio. It gives the Juggalos a chance to wear and display the group’s distinctive tattoos, its art, symbols and insignia on their bodies and personal clothing and belongings. To put it mildly, the Gathering is a uniquely bizarre expression of everything and anything counter-culture. The festival is attended each year by approximately ten thousand fans and curiosity seekers.
The Juggalos Wikipedia page lists the most common characteristics of the group:
- Drinking and spraying the inexpensive soft drink Faygo.
- Listening to horrorcore and other types of underground music.
- Wearing face paint, generally those either like a clown or perhaps similar to corpse pain.
- Wearing HatchetGear.
- Having the Hatchet man logo applied on personal effects and, die cast, worn as jewelry.
- Doing hair in the spider legs style, i.e. like the Twiztid members.
- Displaying the gesture of wicked clown, the westside sign with the left hand and the C sign in ASL with the right, with arms crossed over.
- Making and responding to “whoop, whoop” calls.
- Expressing a (generally) tongue-in-cheek obsession with murder, committed with a blade weapon.
Law Enforcement Fears Counter-Culture
The Juggalos view the violent lyrics of the Insane Clown Posse and the activities of the Gathering as a “catharsis for aggression.” Law enforcement, however, didn’t view the Juggalos as an innocent counter-culture movement. The police long suspected the Juggalos were violent, and repeatedly tried to connect them to violent crimes. Five years after the Gathering was established, Congress instructed the U.S. Attorney General to have the FBI create a National Gang Intelligence Center (”NGIC”). The Sixth Circuit said the NGIC assigned the responsibility of putting together a database to collect, analyze and disseminate gang activity information “from the FBI, Bureau of Prisons, the Drug Enforcement Administration, other federal agencies, and state and local law enforcement agencies, among others.”
In 2011, the NGIC issued a National Gang Threat Assessment (“Report”) summarizing and reporting the information it had collected and analyzed about gang activities. The Report said its objective was to reduce the “threat, incidence, and prevalence of violent crime”; and that its intelligence information came from “federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement and corrections agencies.” The Report was made public on the NGIC’s website.
Juggalos Designated Loosely Organized Hybrid Gang
In this unfortunate national era of suspicion and false assumptions, it was virtually inevitable that the Juggalos would attract the attention of the NGIC which is influenced by the FBI’s unique ability to either see or plant a “threat” behind every innocuous tree. The NGIC’s 2011 report classified the Juggalos as a “loosely-organized hybrid gang”—gangs which are defined as “non-traditional gangs with multiple affiliations [that] are adopting national symbols and gang members often crossover from gang to gang.” The Report charged:
- “Many Juggalos subsets exhibit gang-like behavior and engage in criminal activity and violence.”
- “Many crimes committed by Juggalos are sporadic, disorganized, individualistic, and often involve simple assault, personal drug use and possession, petty theft and vandalism.”
- “A small number of Juggalos are forming more organized subsets and engaging in more gang-like criminal activity, such as felony assaults, thefts, robberies, and drug sales.”
- “Juggalos’ disorganization and lack of structure within their groups, coupled with their transient nature, makes it difficult to identify them and identify their numbers and migration patterns.”
Law Enforcement Abuses Designation
Utilizing these qualifiers, any and every football team in the NFL would have to be designated as a “loosely-organized hybrid gang.” Of course, these qualifiers gave license to law enforcement agencies across the country to identify and target Juggalos for vehicle searches; to make investigative stops of their motor vehicles; to subject them to unwarranted criminal background checks; to hold them for extended law enforcement interrogations about their tattoos and “gang status;” to require removal of Juggalos tattoos before they could enlist in military service; to then discipline or involuntary discharge them from the Army; and to have their musical events canceled by local authorities because of their suspected ties to gang activity.
First Amendment Lawsuit
Several Juggalos eventually had enough of this law enforcement scrutiny and harassment. They filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice and the FBI under the Administrative Procedure Act and Declaratory Judgment Act. A federal district court summarily dismissed the lawsuit following a motion for dismissal filed by the Justice Department.
The Sixth Circuit reversed, finding that the Juggalos “… First Amendment rights are being chilled” and the group suffered “reputational injuries” because of the alleged “improper stops, detentions, interrogations, searches, denial of employment, and interference with contractual relations” by law enforcement based on the Report.
We applaud the Sixth Circuit’s ruling granting the Juggalos their day in court. We do not know whether the Government has any real evidence of the existence of indictors of a criminal gang, but we seriously doubt it. It is more likely that the Juggalos are simply a counter-culture musical following that enjoys shocking and offending “square” culture.
Law Enforcement Culture Out of Control
What we do know is that this nation’s law enforcement agencies are running amok with their “threat assessments.” Everyone is now a suspect and a potentially violent offender that needs to be subdued with overwhelming force. As criminal defense lawyers we regularly see cases where police agencies make premature and blanket assessments about individuals or groups of people who associate together. We often see police jump the gun and use violence when presented with individuals who are passionate, or vulgar, about demonstrating their constitutionally protected rights. This has led us to believe that the many in our police force have become psychologically out of control, exhibiting paranoia, self righteousness, hypocrisy and unreasonably violent use of force. This is evidenced almost weekly as new video of law enforcement encounters with those it is sworn to serve and protect are released by media and concerned citizens.
Based on the information provided in the 2011 UGIC Report, if the Juggalos are force to wear the designation of a “loosely-organized hybrid gang,” then so will be almost any other social or professional group that has members who occasionally break the law.