Juggalos: They're the die-hard fans of rap-rock duo Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope "“ aka Insane Clown Posse. In fact, Juggalos are so united in their passion for ICP's songs and ideology, they've become one of the most widely recognized band fan base of all time"”their dedication outdoing even that of "Deadheads""”because being a Juggalo is about much more than a shared appreciation for ICP's music; it's about more than having every ICP album or regularly attending ICP shows. It's a full-time lifestyle, and one that Juggalos take very seriously. And to punctuate their devotion, Juggalos refer to themselves collectively as "a family," rather than fans.
Unfortunately for Juggalos, their definition of family happens to differ from that of the FBI, which refers to Juggalos collectively as a "gang."
The Feds initially began classifying Juggalos as "gang members," after they noticed that an awful lot of paint-faced, ICP t-shirt-wearing folks were getting arrested for crimes such as vandalism, felony assault and drug trade. And, as you may or may not know, any crime labeled as being "gang-related" is punished more severely than the same crime would be if someone with no gang affiliations committed it. So in the spirit of family, when Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope heard what these haters had been saying about Juggalos, they came to their brethren's defense by suing the bureau for unfairly targeting ICP fans, violating their freedom of speech and requesting that the judge tell the FBI to lift the "gang" label off of the Juggalo community.
That was back in 2011. Fast forward to July 8th, 2014"”the day on which Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope were told that their case against the FBI was being dismissed and that Juggalos will, in fact, continue to be viewed as gang members in the eyes of the law.
"This is not the end"”we'll keep fighting to clear the Juggalo family name," said Violent J in response to the ruling. Obviously, he and Shaggy 2 Dope are bummed out about this outcome. But, as a person who isn't even remotely invested in ICP or the fate of Juggalos on a personal level, I'm conflicted over the court's decision, strictly from a legal standpoint.
Sure, Juggalos are "“ if I may generalize "“ dysfunctional outcasts who gravitate to the movement for its acceptance of those that the rest of society doesn't seem to care for. If you've ever seen Juggalos, or heard them speak, you'd realize that they're a bottom-echelon-of-the-trailer kind of bunch. For the most part, Juggalos are unattractive, uneducated and unhealthy. They're rowdy, impulsive, and yes, presumably due to many Juggalos' lack of articulation and verbal skills, often violent.
But are they really a gang? For one, Juggalos aren't an official club. They're a sub-culture, becoming a part of which entails permanently assuming the Juggalo identity and existing in accordance with the Juggalo belief system. If anything, the Juggalo movement is closer to a religion than a criminal organization.
And while individual Juggalos may engage in criminal activity, the collective Juggalo community does not sanction those actions. Rather, they're the result of poverty, heavy drinking and/or run-of-the-mill white trash aggression.
You see, Juggalos originated as a sub-division of low-income mid-western culture. Hence, based on the upbringing and socio-economic status of the Juggalo majority, it's fair to assume that many of them fall under a category of people who, in general, are likely to commit crimes based on a plethora of factors that have nothing to do with an affinity for ICP.
The U.S government's reason for classifying Juggalos as a gang seems to simply be that they're a group of individuals with certain shared traits, to which a certain amount of people who have broken the law also happen to belong.
But that same logic could be applied to numerous other groups "“ like, oh, say...black people. But you don't see cops treating someone like a gang member just because they're black. Oh, wait. You see it all the time.
So if we haven't even fully won that battle on police profiling and discrimination, the Juggalos probably have an even longer way to go before the FBI treats their "family" with the justice and equality they "“ constitutionally speaking "“ do deserve.