Back in January, the controversial "horrorcore" rap group Insane Clown Posse announced a September march on Washington, to officially protest the findings from a 2011 FBI report that classified the group's hardcore fans, known as Juggalos, as a "gang." Yesterday, the The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit threw out a 2014 lawsuit filed by ICP members Joseph "Violent J" Bruce and Joseph "Shaggy 2 Dope" Utler, which claimed the FBI report violated their constitutional rights. However, the appeals court ruled that the FBI's decision to label the Juggalos as a gang wasn't a "final agency action," meaning it was never part of an official law, and therefore could not be contested in court.
Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope claimed in their lawsuit that the distinction of the Juggalos as a gang caused one venue to cancel one of their live concerts, at the behest of law enforcement. They were joined in the lawsuit by two Juggalos, who claimed that the distinction of Juggalos as a gang got them in trouble with the police, while two more Juggalos stated that the gang term jeopardized their career in the military. All of the plaintiffs denied being any part of a criminal gang, but the appeals court stated that the plaintiffs couldn't prove this distinction resulted in any legal consequences, and there were no "marching orders" given to law enforcement agencies as a result of this gang distinction. Here's an excerpt from the court's ruling below.
"The various reputational and personal harms suffered by Appellants in the present case may be the practical consequences of the Juggalo gang designation, but they are not a direct or appreciable legal consequence of the Juggalo gang designation. No government officials are required to consider or abide by the gang designation."
The group has long tried to fight the ruling, claiming that they are not actually gang members, but that the ICP and Juggle label are just a way of life. During the September march on Washington D.C., a Juggalo from Ohio named Amie Puterbaugh claimed the distinction of Juggalos as a gang was as ridiculous as labelling Grateful Dead followers known as Deadheads as a gang, or Lady Gaga fans known as Little Monsters. The original 2011 FBI report stated that some Juggalos had been involved in assault, robberies and drug dealing, although only four U.S. states officially recognized the Juggalos as a gang. The report added that there were several "Juggalo subsets" made up of homeless or transient people who "pose a threat to communities".
There have been a few notable criminal cases involving Juggalos, including a Wisconsin man who was sentenced to prison earlier this year for chopping off a woman's finger and drinking her blood, to honor both the band and a deceased friend. The band claims that the Juggalos do not gather with the intent of committing any crimes, but contended that within any large group, there will be some individuals who will break the law, but that group should not be deemed as a gang because of that. If ICP and the Juggalos decide to appeal this ruling, it's possible, although unlikely, that this case could wind up before the Supreme Court. To learn more about this ruling, you can head on over to The Washington Post.