DETROIT — The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan today hailed a federal appeals court ruling that allows fans of rap duo Insane Clown Posse — known as “Juggalos” — to move forward with a lawsuit against the FBI for designating Juggalos a criminal gang.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to prove what everyone knows: While the Juggalos may be non-conformists, they are certainly not a criminal gang,” said Michael J. Steinberg, legal director of the ACLU of Michigan.
Filed by the ACLU of Michigan in January 2014 on behalf of four Juggalos and the two members of Insane Clown Posse (ICP), the lawsuit argues that the fans were wrongly listed as a “hybrid” gang in 2011 in the Justice Department’s National Gang Threat Assessment report and suffered harassment as a result. The suit, which demands that the Juggalos be removed from the list, was dismissed by a U.S. district court judge who contended that the clients lacked “legal standing” to bring the complaint.
However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reinstated the suit yesterday, saying the Juggalos can proceed because they assert that the improper gang designation has caused them substantial harm.
“We’re thankful that the Juggalo family will finally get their day in court,” said ICP members Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J in a press statement. “Discrimination against someone based solely upon the type of music they listen to is just flat out wrong and it’s time that the legal system acknowledges that. The FBI’s labeling of Juggalos as a gang has wreaked havoc on thousands of lives, resulting in job losses, dismissal from military service, eviction, lost child custody and constant harassment and profiling from law enforcement organizations all across the country.
“We thank our incredible legal team and the ACLU of Michigan for standing up for the rights of Juggalos and we can’t wait to get back in that courtroom and fight to clear our family name. To all Juggalos … thank you for standing strong with us in this battle and MUCH CLOWN LOVE! WHOOP WHOOP!”
Saura Sahu, the ACLU cooperating attorney who argued the case, recounted the problems that have arisen from the FBI designation and praised the decision. “Our clients have been pulled over by police, arrested and denied jobs because of the gang designation and they have become fearful to express their affinity with other Juggalos and ICP," Sahu said. "They are entitled to have their day in court.”
Read the appeals court decision to reinstate the Juggalos lawsuit
Read more about the Juggalos case against the Justice Department