Growing up in the U.S., we are no strangers to government corruption. In high school, we read the classics like Animal Farm and 1984, and most of us read them without realizing that the fictional worlds created therein were to become so close to our own reality.
We’re not even talking government corruption on the levels of “moral turpitude” with which much of society seems so concerned today. What worries us most is when the government crosses the line from protecting citizens to harassing those it is meant to serve.
This is nothing new. Newspapers have long been censored to prevent unfavorable press, which is unquestionably a first amendment violation. A 1931 Supreme Court Case, Near v. Minnesota, outlawed prior restraint on newspapers as it “suppress[es] the freedom of the press to publish without obstruction…”
Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks came the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, which has been controversial on several levels. According to the article, “How the Patriot Act Works,” on howstuffworks.com, Title II severely modifies the laws for unlawful search and seizure to allow the government to search a suspect’s home without first serving a search warrant and to even search the home without its residents present.
Even more recently, videotaped evidence of police brutality against Occupy Wall Street protesters openly showed the very officers sworn to protect and serve the public interfering with the public’s right to peaceably assemble.
Now, the FBI, with some new classifications in its 2011National Gang Threat Assessment Emerging Trends report, has named a certain group of music lovers on the same list of gangsters as the Bloods, Crips, Mexican Mafia and even motorcycle gangs such as the Hell’s Angels.
The report puts the Juggalos, fans of the music group Insane Clown Posse (ICP), on the FBI gang list while admitting that they are recognized as a gang by only four states. First off, how big of a threat to national security can one group be if only four states have it on a watch list?
Within the assessment itself, it seems as though the FBI fabricated new definitions for what constitutes a gang to get the Juggalos even considered for the report.
“The Juggalos, a loosely-organized hybrid gang, are rapidly expanding into many U.S. communities,” it reads.
In the 2009 report, there was no mention of either “hybrid gangs,” which appears to mean gangs that don’t fit the description of a gang, or of the Juggalos. The main difference in the Juggalos and other “gangs” in this report, however, is that Juggalos don’t consider themselves gang members.
Shaggy 2 Dope, one half of ICP, told LA Weekly how he feels about having the group’s fans on the FBI gang list.
“That’s now calling our concerts a gang rally, that our f—in’ merchandise is gang apparel,” he said. “That’s a public lynching of our name.”
Whereas most members of gang organizations have frequent run-ins with the judicial system for criminal activity such as felony drug trafficking and violent crime charges, the typical Juggalo doesn’t have that. Criminal activity amongst Juggalos, the report claims, is either committed by specific subsets or specific individuals.
The last paragraph on page 22 of the assessment reads: “Most crimes committed by Juggalos are sporadic, disorganized, individualistic, and often involve simple assault, personal drug use and possession, petty theft, and vandalism.”
We don’t see where that qualifies as “gang activity,” which is usually highly organized, much more serious and in no way individualistic.
ICP is so determined to get their fans off of this list and clear up this grotesque case of mistaken identity, that they are actually suing the FBI to clear the names of their fans, whom they refer to as their “family.”
While Juggalos are far from perfect—and really, who isn’t?—we believe that they certainly are not gang members and should not appear on the FBI’s gang list.