If you consider the Sharks and the Jets to be gangs in the same way the Bloods and the Crips fit that selective bill, you might also be willing to consider juggalos one. The FBI does, at least: According to the bureau's most recent National Gang Threat Assessment, the face-painted fans of ICP are both down with the clown and down with "gang-like behavior," "criminal activity" and even, no whoop whoop here, "violence."
Their induction into this special hall of infamy came earlier this week, but it has been building for a while: The Psychopathic Records fanatics are "rapidly expanding into many US communities," the report warns, though it's clear they've already expanded into Denver. Shows like last month's Insane Clown Posse concert at the Ogden are blown-out spectacles for sold-out crowds almost as full of people as they are packed with Faygo.
The report comes complete with a photo (above), a necessity should you need to identify which newly classified gang the person pointing a gun at you calls his or her own. Juggalos have long been a stereotype in both the music community and the larger social world, and though recent media coverage, particularly that of Camille Dodero, a staff writer at our sister paper the Village Voice, appeared to start changing that perception, this recent analysis is as unhealthy for the group as regular Faygo is for Violent J. (The public diabetic prefers diet, which also leaves fewer stains on clothing.) If read carefully enough, the report's synopsis of the juggalo community might actually be more insulting than its inclusion on the list in the first place: "Homeless" and "disorganized," they are classified not unlike a particularly sickly herd of cattle.
"Juggalos' disorganization and lack of structure within their groups, coupled with their transient nature, makes it difficult to classify them and identify their members and migration patterns. Many criminal Juggalo subsets are comprised of transient or homeless individuals, according to law enforcement reporting."
But watch out, guys: Colorado is one of the five states included on the FBI's list of the most juggalo-related activity. Last June, Denver is where two victims were stabbed, allegedly by a self-professed juggalo. It is also important to note, however, that the Mile High City is also the home of the very first chapter of the nonprofit organization Juggalos Making a Difference, a group dedicated to youth reform and education across both juggalo and, yes, non gang-related sides of the community.
"For a long time, we've been treated like we're terrible people, like we're a gang and we're going to take the hatchet man symbol literally and start taking our own hatchets to people," says Brandy "Bash" Gomez," founder of JMAD and creator of its masterpiece website. (Pay special attention to the "We Are Not A Gang" tab.) "Calling us a gang is ridiculous because it groups all of our numbers together and breaks us all down as the same person. Sure, some juggalos do engage in criminal activity, but so does the rest of the population, and JMAD is trying to change that."
Stay tuned to Westword for more news about JMAD in the near future, and in the meantime, check out the FBI's assessment of the clown army (on pages 21 and 22) for yourselves below.
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