The hip-hop duo Insane Clown Posse and the American Civil Liberties Union have sued the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI, accusing them of wrongly identifying the group’s fan base as a criminal gang, violating its free speech rights.
Many of the duo’s fans, known as Juggalos, paint their faces to look like clowns and wear a logo of a hatchet man—the rap group’s signature style.
Insane Clown Posse, comprised of members Joseph Bruce (a.k.a. “Violent J”) and Joseph Utsler (a.k.a. “Shaggy 2 Dope”) joined forces with the ACLU in filing the charges in the U.S. District Court in Detroit, Michigan.
“[Juggalos] are not an organized fan club, but a group of people who bond over the music and a philosophy of life, much like ‘Deadheads’ bonded around the Grateful Dead,” said a representative of the ACLU. “The Juggalos are fighting for the basic American right to freely express who they are, to gather and share their appreciation of music, and to discuss issues that are important to them without fear of being unfairly targeted and harassed by police.”
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of four Juggalos and the Insane Clown Posse rappers. In the complaint, both the Justice Department and the FBI are accused of violating the fans’ First Amendment rights and collecting information on the group without suspicion of criminal activity.
Brandon Bradley, a 20-year-old self-identified Juggalo, says that he has “on numerous occasions been stopped and detained by law enforcement officers in California,” the ACLU said in a statement. “Each time, the officer has wrongly accused Brandon of being in a gang and has interrogated him about being a Juggalo and his affiliated tattoos and clothing. Another client, Scott Gandy, was told he would not be accepted into the Army because his ICP tattoo was a gang symbol.”