Rappers Insane Clown Posse, aka hip hop duo Violent J and Shggy 2 Dope, have filed a lawsuit against the US Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, over a report which labelled their fans as ‘gang members’ and have announced that they have gained support for their legal action against the FBI from civil rights organisation the American Civil Liberties Union and law firm Miller Canfield.
The band’s fans, known as ‘Juggalos’, were referenced in the FBI’s ‘National Gang Threat Assessment: Emerging Trends’ report in 2011, which said: “The Juggalos, a loosely-organised hybrid gang, are rapidly expanding into many US communities. Although recognised as a gang in only four states, many Juggalo subsets exhibit gang-like behaviour and engage in criminal activity and violence – law enforcement officials in at least 21 states have identified criminal Juggalo subsets”.
Violent J, real name Joseph Bruce, and Shaggy 2 Dope, real name Joey Utsler, along with four fans filed the legal paperwork in the US Federal District Court in Michigan, claiming their constitutional rights of free expression and association and due process were violated by the 2011 Assessment. The fans also allege they have been subject to police harassment because of the designation. The group and their label, Psycopathic Records, originally filed a lawsuit against the FBI in September 2012 through law firm Hertz Schram. In it, they claimed that the FBI had violated the US Freedom of Information Act by not providing any documentary evidence to prove that fans of the hip hop duo should be deemed an organised criminal outfit.
Speaking at a press conference at ACLU’s headquarters in Michigan yesterday, the duo said that, in partnership with the civil rights organisation, they were now working with prominent law firm Miller Canfield on the case. One of the ICP fans newly listed as a plaintiff also spoke, saying that he was regularly stopped by police for having Juggalo tattoos and wearing related clothing, insisting that he is “a peaceful person”. Another fan says that he was rejected from the US Army because his own Juggalo tattoos were viewed as being “gang-related” by recruiters.
Shaggy 2 Dope said at the conference: “We’re not a gang, we’re a family. We’re a diverse group of men and women, united by our love of music and nothing more. We’re not a threat, a public menace or a danger to society”.