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What is a Juggalo, Why are They Marching and Why Should We Care?

“Juggalos” are a group of fans dedicated to the rap group Insane Clown Posse. Juggalos paint their faces, wear the record label’s logo, and are proud to be a part of their community. The band claims to have a following in the “tens of thousands.”

That seems reasonable. Most of us have heard of Lady Gaga’s “Little Monsters” or the Grateful Dead’s “Deadheads” or Jimmy Buffet’s “Parrotheads,” so what’s the big deal?

While 95% of self-proclaimed Juggalos (or Juggalettes for the female fans) are peaceful fans of the horrorcore hip-hop genre, a small percentage of the group have aligned themselves with other gangs or committed crimes while identifying themselves with the facepaint and tee shirts that fans sport at the concerts. Because of this, Juggalos have been classified as a gang.

Judging a Group by its Extremists

According to NPR, the National Gang Intelligence center classified ICP as “loosely organized hybrid gang” with affiliates in twenty-one states. This places the Juggalos in the same category as the Crips, Bloods, and MS-13. The classification came after the FBI cited violent incidents in which Juggalos committed crimes while affiliating with the fandom. Juggalos did not like this. Neither did the band. ICP sued the Department of Justice and the FBI in reaction to the gang classification. Eventually, the ACLU picked up the case and filed suit on behalf of the band and their followers. The lawsuit argued that Juggalos’ have the “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 official website for the “Juggalo March on Washington” claims that the band’s legal team has heard from fans across the country who have faced discrimination since the gang classification. Supposedly Juggalos have lost their jobs, been denied jobs in the U.S. Armed Forces, and have lost custody of their children. The argument is convincing – why should thousands of fans be held accountable for the actions of so few? How is it possible that in 2017 Americans can face discrimination in the workforce and in the legal system based on the music they enjoy?

What is Their Politics?

An article published by Bustle asks, “Do Juggalos Like Trump?”. The answer is likely no. The band claims to be apolitical. They have also been known to burn confederate flags onstage. Juggalos may define themselves as anti-racism and anti-bigotry but Juggalo subculture has been dominated by mostly men, and it is not exactly paving the way for social justice in the United States. The Juggalos seem to be most worried about their own identity.

Regardless of your opinion on the Juggalos, they are getting their moment in the spotlight. Whether they will be successful in their efforts to secure free speech is yet to be determined.

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