“I’m a 30 year old singer/songwriter and full-time student from Northern Virginia. I’m also a Juggalo; I have been since 2004. Allow me to provide a little background information on myself so that you might better understand my predicament.
I come from a well-to-do, Norman Rockwell-esque suburban family. My father was an Army colonel stationed in the Pentagon, my mother a teacher. I was an honor student, cheerleader, and marching band member, and worked very hard to maintain the preppy persona that was expected of me. It never quite fit though, and I made myself miserable trying to create a place for myself that wasn’t meant for me. I found the music of ICP when I was 17 and going through an extremely difficult and traumatic time in my life. I didn’t know any Juggalos, but something in the music made me somehow feel like I wasn’t alone. In many ways I credit it for saving my life. It helped me to find the peace to just be myself, instead of the person everyone else wanted me to be. Six years later when I finally did meet others like me, they immediately accepted me as family, and remain my best friends to this day.
Then, in 2014, I got into some legal trouble and ended up serving time for a DUI. I’m thankful that no one was injured by my immature decision, and had no problem whatsoever accepting the consequences of my poor choice. Actually, I see it as a positive in my life because upon my release I straightened my act up and enrolled back in college. I will graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Business next spring.
But then something happened that I did not anticipate. Upon check-in with my probation officer one day, she informed me that she could not see me until I had spoken with gang task force. Apparently a staff member had seen the Hatchetman tattoo on the back of my neck and was concerned. The officer in charge of the gang unit brought me back and asked me some questions about my affiliation with the Juggalo gang. I informed her that I was in no way a gang member, but a fan of ICP’s music, and that Juggalos were nothing more than a misunderstood fan base and sub-culture. She told me how Juggalos were thieves and murderers, I told her about all the good things we do, such as food drives and collecting water for Flint residents. I also told her that I had gotten my tattoo five years before the FBI gang label. She said that the fact that I knew of the gang label and had not disassociated myself with the Juggalos or covered my tattoos was proof enough to her that I was in the gang. She then validated me in the system as a gang member and gave me my new gang probation conditions. They were extensive, and included things such as random home visits, and the inability to set foot on any school grounds, even to see my niece’s dance recital. I would no longer be allowed to attend concerts or see my friends. I pleaded with her that my Juggalo friends were some of the most positive people in my life, and that attending shows was also helpful to me as a music business student. It made no difference. I had to provide all of my Facebook information, as any pictures showing my hatchet tattoos or having any person with Juggalo content on their profile on my friends list would be an automatic violation. She then informed me that were I to go back to jail I would not be able to leave solitary confinement, and were I go to go to prison it was mandatory that I would have to be housed at a maximum security facility. Also if I to be in the presence of a Juggalo who happened to commit a crime I would be charged with a gang crime whether I was involved or not. I was terrified and sobbing by the time I went home that day.
As I stated previously, I have no problem serving my debt to society for the crime that I committed. But being labeled a violent gang member for life for the music I choose to listen to is a crime in itself. ICP appeals to the misfits of our society, some of whom may be predisposed to committing crimes regardless of their choice in music, but not because of this musical preference. It should in no way be reflective of our community as a whole. I was released from probation in December 2016, after a failed try earlier in the year that was denied because of my gang status. However, I will forever be in the system as a gang member, subject to police harassment and constant fear that this will continue to affect me in my upcoming professional life as well as my personal life. Now that I can legally speak on my experience, I intend to speak out against this gross injustice placed upon the Juggalos and will not stop taking a stand until the gang label is removed.”
“On March 10, 2016 at 9:00 AM, I sent a text message to my immediate supervisor, Angela M., advising her that I was not feeling well and I would not be at work until 1:00 PM that day (I usually start work at 10:00 AM). At 10:30 AM, Angela M. called me and told me that something came up at work and asked that I come in to work ASAP. She would not give any details as to why I needed to come in sooner. I told her that I would be in by 1:00 PM. At 12:30 AM, I called Angela to let her know that I was on my way in to work and to ask her what was going on, she did not answer or call me back.
At 1:00 PM, I signed in to the outlook calendar at work from my desk. Immediately after doing so, the Chief, Tracy L., called my desk phone and asked me to come to her office. I told her that I would be right there. Already present in the Chief’s office was the Chief and Deputy Chief Hermene R. As soon as I sat down, the Chief handed me a one page document (the memo) and stated that effective immediately, I was being put on pre-disciplinary leave. She then read the memo to me.
As soon as she mentioned Juggalo, I told her that I am strictly just a fan of Insane Clown Posse’s music and have been since 1997. The Chief cut me off and would not allow me to speak anymore and told me to sign the document. She then told me that she would be following me back to my office (other side of the building) where I would be allowed to collect only my purse and then she would be escorting me to my car.
At 1:07 PM, as the Chief was escorting me to my office, I tried to ask her questions about what was going on because I was very confused and she would not answer any questions. Specifically, I asked her “Exactly what am I being accused of, Tracy?” she replied “That is what the meeting tomorrow morning will cover.” Right before the Chief escorted me out of the door to the parking lot, I told her that I was
extremely confused and had no idea what was going on and that I merely listen to ICP’s music and don’t even know another person who listens to their music. She replied “Whatever, Jessica, your boyfriend is a Juggalo.” I also asked her if she was aware of the current litigation in the Michigan Federal Court Circuit on this subject. She replied “That does not matter, this is Virginia”. I then left the building as we were at the exit door.
I was so upset I could not process what was going on any wasn’t even sure what was going on. On my drive home I called my parents. They advised me to call some of my attorney friends to seek assistance. I was only able to get a hold of one, Anita Baldock who is an Asst. CW Attorney in Fauquier, she advised me to call an employment lawyer because my situation was not her field and she did not want to give
me bad information. I contacted one other person to seek advice on my situation, Sarah Postema, a co-worker from my office. She is included on my witness list. Unfortunately, she was not able to provide any guidance.
On March 11, 2016 at 7:30 AM, after staying up all night trying to figure this out, I called the Chief and left her a voicemail at 7:30 am, asking her to delay the meetng because I did not have time to contact anyone regarding this, such as an attorney, and I wanted the opportunity to speak with HR or an EEO. She called me immediately back and demanded that I come in. I told her that I did not want to go alone and that I felt very ill-equipped and unprepared and was not sure of what was even going on. She replied everything would be explained at the meeting (false claim). She told me that I would be given a chance to speak on my behalf regarding the allegations (not true). I told her that due to the nature of the allegations, I wanted someone else there on my behalf; she said that was not necessary and told me to get in my car and come to the office. As soon as I arrived, she advised me that I was terminated due to "liking" a few clown pictures and music artists on Facebook. She then told me that due to the "overwhelming" evidence, I was not allowed to offer any mitigating statements. Prior to her stating that I was terminated, I again requested to speak with HR. She denied my request again and stated "HR already knows and this is already done". I was then handed a termina_on packet which included ten 8x10 printouts of pictures on Facebook that I had "liked" or shared, most pertaining to clowns and nothing even remotely "gang related". Right before she escorted me off the property, I asked her for clarification and stated "So, I am being terminated for the type of music I listen to while not at work?" She replied, "Yes".
As to the Chief’s comment about my boyfriend being a Juggalo, due to the Chief’s tone when she called him that, I could tell that she was not referring to him a “Juggalo/fan of ICP music” but as a “Juggalo/gang member”. My boyfriend just started listening to ICP approximately one year ago because I am always listening to that music. Other than my boyfriend who now listens to the same genre due to me introducing him to the music, I do not even know, much less associate with, anyone else that is also afan of ICP’s music.
In 2011, the FBI released the National Gang Threat Assessment Report that listed “The Juggalos” as a “loosely-organized hybrid gang”. Due to this label, I have gone out of my way to distance myself from associating my favorite band’s music. To include: not getting ICP tattoos, not putting band stickers on my cars or motorcycles, and not attending their annual music festival. I also do not talk to, chat, or associate with any other fans. My reasoning for this is because I know that law enforcement looks at and treats ICP fans negatively due to the FBI’s 2011 report (the 2013 report no longer includes the Juggalos) as such, working in the field of law enforcement, I figured that just listening to the music could warrant a possible investigation (erroneous in my opinion). And since, even the FBI recognized and listed on their 2011 report, that there is a difference between, “juggalo-name given to fans of ICP music” and “Juggalo-hybrid gang member” that any investigation as to my association with ICP would conclude that I am only a fan of the music.
I do not hide my interest in this music. In fact, in 2011, while I was interning for the Department of Juvenile Justice in Prince William County, I told Senior Probation Officer, Brady B., who is in charge of the gang unit, that I have been a major fan of ICP since 1997. I also showed him pictures of all the ICP memorabilia that I have collected over the years. This conversation sparked after I saw a picture of ICP’s record label logo on Mr. Buckles’ office wall and asked him about it.Many of my co-workers from DJJ and DOC knew that I have been a longtime fan of ICP.”
“I have been labeled a gang member because of my Hatchet Man tattoo and a few leg tattoos that are related to Insane Clown Posse. I have never been in a gang—and never will be. I don't understand how an individual completely minding his own business can be harassed and pulled over, put in a gang profile and looked at like a criminal. Yes, I am a Juggalo but a gang member? Please. I'm in college, have a clean record and am a really open minded person that loves all kinds of music. Yet, it seems like I can’t step foot outside my door without being stopped or harassed by a police officer or a gang detective. They have asked me to lift up my shirt and see my tattoos, searched my pockets, asked where I live or where I'm going when I haven't even committed a crime. All I'm ever doing is walking to school or to work. The local police now recognize me as a gang member despite my completely clean record. I want to pursue a career in law enforcement and have always had a passion for being a cop or a criminal investigator but how am I supposed to have the job I have always wanted when I myself am getting investigated when no crimes are being committed? It’s just ridiculous.”
Citrus Height, CA
Brandon went on to be one of the Juggalo plaintiffs in the Psychopathic Records/ACLU of Michigan lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice.
“I decided to join the Army and when I talked to my recruiter he asked about my tattoos. I told him I had a Hatchetman on my chest and ICP on the other side of my chest. I was told that due to the fact that Juggalos were added to the gang list, my tattoos were considered gang tags and I would not be able to join unless I was willing to have the tattoos covered up. So I went and sat through hours of pain to have the two tattoos covered up. If it wouldn’t have been for the Juggalos being added to the gang list, my recruiter said I would not have had to have them covered up. I was and still am greatly disappointed that I was not going to be able to serve my country because of two tattoos I got at an early age being falsely considered gang tags due to the FBI adding the Juggalos to the gang list.”
Scott also went on to be one of the Juggalo plaintiffs in the Psychopathic Records/ACLU of Michigan lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice.
“I lost custody of my daughter recently during a custody battle with the father. The father brought my music preferences in to question at the hearings, calling the courts attention to my being a Juggalo. He told the court that Juggalos are ‘meth head cult members who are extremely violent and listen to the Insane Clown Posse together.’ Even though I have only baked cookies, played Guitar Hero, taken walks, played with our children at the park, etc. with the Juggalos that I know.
I ended up having to go through an expensive drug assessment, even though the father didn't accuse me of current drug use at that time. The guardian ad litem's reasoning for this drug assessment was actually because she thought it was important that I prove my credibility to the court since I am a Juggalo. The father submitted pictures of me wearing face paint and a picture of my daughter and I baking a cookie in the shape of a hatchetman.
As soon as the custody hearing began, it seemed like it was all about the Juggalo issue. I ended up losing primary custody of her and now get to see my daughter three weekends per month. I don't get to participate in any of her school activities unless the father grants permission to do so.
I don't understand how baking a cookie or wearing face paint like a clown-- nothing more, nothing less--could be used as such powerful ammo against me in court. The father made up an entire case of lies and won his case because the court ate up everything he said after the Juggalo issue was brought up.”
“I was in Indianapolis about three months ago and went into a gas station. As I was heading to get a soda the clerk said, ‘Hey, we don't serve your kind here.’ I was confused so I asked ‘What do you mean by that, sir?’ Then he said ‘You’re wearing that ICP Juggalo stuff and Juggalos are a gang. You have two choices, son. One, you leave my store nice and calm or two, I call the law.’ So I left but I still don't think that was right.”
“I went to the Department of Motor Vehicles the other day to get my driver’s license and my car has a Hatchet Man sticker on the back windshield. When I got there, the lady who was doing my test told me that I couldn’t use my car because it was ‘gang related.’ I asked her how and she replied ‘You should know. You’re in the Juggalo gang.’ Additionally, I have a Hatchet Man tattoo on my chest and I was denied from joining the military due to the tattoo being supposedly ‘gang related.’ I don’t understand it. I know people who have tattoos of other bands like the Grateful Dead or Lady Gaga – why aren’t they classified like Juggalos are?”
“A few months ago, I was in New York City visiting a friend. I was walking down the street wearing a shirt containing the six Joker’s Cards. I was harassed by the NYPD and nearly got arrested.
It began when I was walking through St. Marks Place in Manhattan. I was browsing through the gift shops when all of a sudden an NYPD cruiser approached me with the lights flashing. Two police officers exited the vehicle and demanded that I stop walking and stay were I was. They insisted that I stand against the wall of a building. They threatened to arrest me if I did not obey their commands. One officer began to search me while the other was asking me a series of questions like “What’s your name? Where are you from? Where are you going? Do you have any drugs on you?”
I explained to them that I wasn’t doing anything wrong and they had no right to search me. They threatened to take me to jail if I said another word. After searching me and finding nothing, a dark colored vehicle pulled up next to the police car. A man dressed relatively casually exited the vehicle holding a digital camera. He took three or four pictures of myself and my clothing. I was asked to turn around so he could snap a picture of the Hatchet Man on the back of my T-shirt. The police went through my bag and took a few shots of the other Psychopathic clothing that I had. After the man got his pictures, he drove off.
The police told me to go back to were I was staying. They told me that they don’t want to see me walking the streets for the rest of the night. They gave me all of my stuff back while looking at me like I was a bug that needed to be squashed. They then got back into their car and drove off. I was completely incapable of defending myself due to the threat of being arrested if I spoke.
I am a good, law abiding American citizen who was treated like a criminal because I was wearing a T-shirt of a band that I admire. I am not a gang member, I have no criminal record, I do not traffic or use drugs, I attend college and I happen to be a fan of Psychopathic Records. There was no reason for the authorities to treat me the way that they did.”
“I have been forced to no longer represent the artists I like from Psychopathic Records due to repeated profiling by the police simply for wearing Insane Clown Posse merchandise. I've been stopped multiple times for nothing more than walking down the street. I'm then questioned about gang affiliation and talked down to about my choice of attire. When I asked why I’ve been pulled over, I get a vague answer such as "You fit the description of a suspect." I'm a culinary arts/ business major at Shasta College, one of the most successful former foster youth in the area and am about as gangster as a Care Bear.”
“My name is Jason. I am a recently retired Army Specialist who has been a Juggalo for over 10 years now. I have been over to Afghanistan and served this country proudly. I was over there from 2009-2010. I have earned several awards and medals for my time there, however in early 2012, a staff sergeant noticed my hatchetman tattoo, which I had for over five years now and told me I need to get it covered or removed. The Army I served with and government I once believed in has turned their back on me. They threatened to kick me out. I received my honorable discharge in August, but I have been barred from re-enlistment because of my tattoos.
Just a few weeks ago, I was taken into Lake County Jail because I was wearing my blue Twiztid jersey at a store and the cops ran my ID and found a warrant. I asked the cops why they stopped me and was told it was because of gang related activities. When I was being booked, the officer doing it asked me if I had
any tattoos. I kindly told the cop I have the crest of the Corps of Engineers for the time I spent as a combat engineer, a cross on my back, a scroll on my side, and when I pulled my sleeve up, she saw the Hatchetman and told me I have to be put in the system as a gang member. When I asked her why, she told me it was because of my tattoo.
Because of this garbage that people are saying about Juggalos and that we are a gang, even though I know we aren't…I have been barred from re-enlistment in the Army, profiled for the clothes I wear, and I have been labeled in the legal system as a gang member. My life has damn near been destroyed. If it wasn't for my Juggalo family I would have nothing.”
Jason S. (No photo available)
(originally published at www.hatchetherald.com)
“My daughter started listening to Insane Clown Posse years ago. I kept hearing bad things about Juggalos, so I decided to listen to the music myself. I really like the fact that they embrace the ‘Family’ idea regarding their fans and I've witnessed Juggalos helping each other out. I became a fan of the music and the lifestyle. I'm not your ‘typical’ Juggalo — I'm 46 years old, a certified optician, certified ophthalmic assistant and I've been employed at the only neuro-ophthalmology clinic in the state of Nevada for years. I'm a medical professional and I'm a Juggalo. My daughter is 20. When she was still in high school, she was suspended for wearing a Hatchetman T-shirt and necklace. I came to the school in my work scrubs wearing a Hatchetman necklace with the intent of arguing her First Amendment rights. I was told by the principal as well as the school police officer that they considered Juggalos to be gang members, and as such, they were not allowed to wear their ‘colors’ on school grounds.
I said ‘I'm a 42 year old medical professional and I'm a Juggalo. I paid cash for my house and cash for my Lexus. Am I a gang member?’ There was no response. While we were in the school, a kid came in wearing a Tupac T-shirt. I pointed him out and said ‘You know, Tupac was shot to death in gang-related violence.’ I was told that Tupac was not considered a gang member. That young man was allowed to recite a Tupac song in his school drama class, while my daughter Kelsie, was NOT allowed to recite an ICP song (that contained A LOT less violent content than the Tupac song). I pulled my daughter out of that school and she finished her diploma through a high school at the local community college where they had no problem allowing her to wear her Hatchet Gear.
Our local malls have both banned wearing Hatchet Gear attire and will physically remove anyone caught wearing it on the premises. I was asked to leave the mall when I came in wearing a Hatchetman necklace. I told the security guard ‘I bought this necklace right there at Hot Topic. They sell this stuff and yet you're telling me I can't wear it?’ He didn't answer me, just escorted me to the door. Both Hot Topic and Spencer’s Gifts have since stopped selling Hatchet Gear as they were told that it is gang attire. As a result, they've lost a lot of business from the Reno Juggalo community. I think it's ludicrous that Juggalos are considered a gang when fans of say, Slipknot or Nickelback for that matter, are not.
Whoop Whoop! From a medical professional, mother, grandmother, poet, and proud Juggalette! FAMILY!”
Kat R. (shown with her daughter Kelsie)
“I went with my girlfriend to donate plasma. I have several tattoos, including a few related to Insane Clown Posse and Psychopathic Records. I asked what I needed to donate and the lady told me I needed state I.D., Social Security card and a proof of address. I gave her all of my information and she gave me a book to read after they checked my veins in my arms. The book covered the rules and concerns about plasma donation and said and if you have certain diseases (HIV, Hepatitis A, B, C,etc.) you can't donate. After waiting for three hours, I was finally called into a little booth and the nurse began taking me through the process, having me fill out paperwork and giving me payment information. She then took some blood to make sure everything in my blood was okay for donating and it was; she said it was ‘almost perfect’ for donating. Soon she began asking about my tattoos and piercing, asking questions like what they were and whether they were finished or not. She asked me to turn over my left arm and saw my Hatchet Man tattoo. She asked “Is that a Hatchet Man?” I replied “Yes it is. Why?” She then told me that they could not allow me to donate because Juggalos are on the Salt Lake City Metro Police gang list. I told her I was a fan of ICP and not a gangster and asked what difference a tattoo made if I was donating plasma that saves people’s lives every day. She just apologized and told me that was the policy so I was unable to donate plasma.”
Jeremiah S. (photo unavailable)
Salt Lake City, UT
There have been several instances my rights have been violated simply because I’m a Juggalo. I am no gang member. I am a very peaceful, hardworking middle class mother with a husband who I met at a concert years ago. But that’s not how I'm treated if I wear any Juggalo-related clothing or if my tattoos are visible. A few years back me and my family were escorted out of the fairgrounds because the police had noticed “too many” Juggalos walking around the fair that day. I was very embarrassed, my kids were upset; we were there for our kids to have fun, no other reason. In fanbases of other music bands there's always some idiot who is violent and does horrible things. Just because one nutcase does something horrible doesn’t mean you label the entire group. We have been treated badly for years now and most of us have to hide who we are to avoid harassment. That’s just not right. This is wrong and should be fixed.
Amanda A. (photo unavailable)
(originally published at www.hatchetherald.com)
I have been a Juggalo since 1996. In 2007 I got charged with possession of of Schedule II substances and was sentenced to eight years of probation. While on probation I was told I was not allowed to get any more ICP tattoos or wear their clothing to or around the probation department. My P.O. was cool and didn't make a big deal about it. Then last November I got into an accident and the cop would not listen to what I had to say and gave me a ticket for the accident because I was on the FBI Gang Task Force list and he saw my Hatchetman tat. I took the ticket to court and told the judge why the cop gave me the ticket and I took it all the way to trial and lost. I've had many cops pull me over and search my car and not give me a ticket because they found nothing. My brother just got out of prison and was told he violated his probation for having ICP CDs, posters, and shirts. As a result, he had to serve 30 more days of prison, go see the parole board and pay $500 for a lawyer to get released. His P.O. said if she even suspects he is listening to ICP, he will be back in prison.
Brandon S. (photo unavailable)
Federal Heights, CO
(originally published at www.hatchetherald.com)
I was sitting at the Orange Park Mall with a few friends and we were eating and shopping and just hanging out and the cops on duty there kicked us out for wearing our Juggalo gear. It seems we can't go anywhere without being kicked out of places, even if we’re just minding our own business. Even at an Anybody Killa show a couple of years ago, we were waiting to meet him and the cops didn't like us and even though we were being quiet and not causing any trouble, they told us to leave or they were going to arrest us. I'm tired of all of this bullying and discrimination.
Kristin R. (photo unavailable)
(originally published at www.hatchetherald.com)