Court reinstates Insane Clown Posse suit against FBI

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit Thursday that the Insane Clown Posse and four fans filed against the FBI.

The Farmington Hills-based rap duo is known for its elaborate performances and painting their faces to look like clowns. Their fans are known as Juggalos.

Early last year, the group and four fans filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation because the government classified Juggalos as “a loosely-organised hybrid gang.”

A Detroit federal judge later dismissed the case, saying it lacked standing. However, the Court of Appeals reversed that decision Thursday, allowing the case to continue.

The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan. In the appeal, the group and its fans said their rights were violated “at the hands of state and local law enforcement officers” who identified Juggalos as a “criminal gang.”

According to the appeal, in 2011, the National Gang Intelligence Center, operating under the FBI, released a national report on gang activity and included a section on Juggalos.

The report identified Juggalos as a “hybrid gang” and provided information about criminal activity committed by Juggalo subsets, according to the appeal.

Amy Powell, a lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice, has contended that the report did not suggest all Insane Clown Posse fans were engaged in criminal activity.

The plaintiffs from states including Tennessee and California said they were targeted by law enforcement for identifying themselves as Juggalos with emblems and tattoos.

One fan, Brandon Bradley of Sacramento, California, has said police stopped him multiple times for wearing ICP apparel and that a police gang squad questioned him because of his Juggalo tattoos.

The group’s members, Joseph Bruce and Joseph Utsler, known as Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, said a scheduled event with the Royal Oak Music Theatre was canceled in October 2012 without prior notice due to a request from the Police Department.

“When asking the Royal Oak Music Theater to cancel the Hallowicked event, the Royal Oak Police Department cited the federal Juggalo gang designation,” according to the appeal.

The group moved the event to the Fillmore Detroit.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.