Insane Clown Posse loses appeals court fight

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

Detroit — Insane Clown Posse and several followers lost an appeal Monday challenging a 2011 FBI report that designated the music group’s fans as a gang.

The 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio, affirmed a Detroit judge’s ruling that the U.S. Justice Department isn't responsible for how authorities use a national report on gangs and dismissed the suit. The fans, known as Juggalos, argued that the gang designation violated constitutional rights to free speech and due process and that they had been targeted by police because they have jewelry or tattoos with the group's symbol, a man running with a hatchet.

The appeals panel Monday said the rap-metal duo and its fans could possibly pursue constitutional claims by suing individual officers.

The opinion comes three months after thousands of Insane Clown posse fans marched on Washington, D.C., and two months after oral arguments in Ohio.

The duo — Joseph Bruce, aka Violent J, and Joseph Utsler, aka Shaggy 2 Dope — and three fans “failed to demonstrate that the Juggalo gang designation results in legal consequences,” the appeals panel wrote in its opinion Monday.

A lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which filed a lawsuit on behalf of Juggalos and the group, could not be reached for comment immediately Monday.

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