WASHINGTON, Sept 17 — Wearing piercings and horror makeup, a thousand fans of controversial US rap group “Insane Clown Posse” descended on Washington yesterday, alleging discrimination since the the FBI labelled them gang members in a 2011 report.
Assembling near the Lincoln Memorial, the “Juggalos,” as they are known, spoke of the difficulties they have faced since the law enforcement agency’s decision: Losing jobs, custody of their children, and excessive police attention.
With its extravagantly dressed participants, many adorned with tattoos and piercings, the “Juggalo March” was an offbeat addition to the regular political rallies staged in the capital.
Yesterday also saw a rightwing demonstration by supporters of President Donald Trump, dubbed the “Mother of All Rallies,” as well as a counter-protest by civil rights activists Black Lives Matter.
The introduction of the third event was seen as potentially adding fuel to an already combustible mix — though all three demonstrations came off without major incident.
Scott Donihoo, who runs a Juggalo fan website told AFP: “We are going to tell our stories of how we are affected by this gang affiliation. We want to give our stories to the general public.
“We don’t look (for) acceptance from them. We just want them to empathise,” he continued, adding that while some fans may have committed crimes as individuals, it was unfair to paint the entire community with the same brush.
The term “Juggalo” is derived from the lyrics of one of the band’s songs. Founded in Detroit in 1989 by duo Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, Insane Clown Posse performs a brand of hip hop known as “horrorcore” which is influenced by supernatural themes and violent horror movie imagery.
Fans sometimes wear clown makeup in homage to the band, as well as chains or tattoos featuring a silhouetted man running with a hatchet.
In a 2011 report, the FBI classified Juggalos as a “loosely organized hybrid gang” — which are defined as having a nebulous structure or being mixed-gender and multi-ethnic.
The group is said to have a strong presence in the Midwest but the report noted it was expanding in New Mexico “because they are attracted to the tribal and cultural traditions of the Native Americans.”
Logan Wolfe, an LGBT activist present at the protest defended the group and said: “Juggalos are more accepting than the rest of society.”
Though they had come to air their grievances, the protest had a festive, family feel as the fans awaited the climax of the day: A performance by Insane Clown Posse. — AFP