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The Juggalos March On Washington To Tell The FBI: “We Aren’t A Gang”

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A Juggalo in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Photo Credit: Rhys Baker.
A Juggalo in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Photo Credit: Rhys Baker.

In attending the Juggalo March On Washington on Saturday, September 16, you could learn a lot about their counterculture, apart from that they are fanatics for the band Insane Clown Posse (ICP). The Juggalos held a rally at the Lincoln Memorial to protest an FBI policy that categorizes the group as a loosely organized, hybrid gang.

Jon Cantu (Left) and Evan Lace (Right) at the Lincoln Memorial for the Juggalo March On Washington. Photo Credit: Rhys Baker.
Jon Cantu (Left) and Evan Lace (Right) at the Lincoln Memorial for the Juggalo March On Washington. Photo Credit: Rhys Baker.

I learned that the Juggalos habitually drink a Detroit-based soda called Faygo, that many of them are Christian, that they refer to themselves as, “Ninjas”, and that some of them play “Morton’s List,” a 30-sided dice game that they describe as being like a real life Dungeons & Dragons.

They also love each other and believe in spreading love. One woman, attempting to explain Juggalo culture to three older women, pointed at me and said, “You!” before opening her arms, walking over to me, and embracing me. “That’s what this is about,” she told the women.

Their event attracted around a thousand juggalos and hordes of media over the course of the day. They came with an impressively unified message. “We are not a gang!” and variations of this message were on the lips and signs of the group all day. Their numbers were boosted when ICP played a show in the evening.

The Juggalo March On Washington stage, facing the Reflecting Pool. Photo Credit: Rhys Baker.
The Juggalo March On Washington stage, facing the Reflecting Pool. Photo Credit: Rhys Baker.

Jon Cantu is a 29-year-old Juggalo and a father who came to the march to protest the impacts of the 2011 FBI gang classification of people who identify as Juggalos. Many of them have the silhouette of a person running with a cleaver tattooed on them. Cantu called it Hatchet Man. He told me that his brother is often pulled over because of the ICP bumper stickers on his car, and that a friend of his lost her job because of her Hatchet Man tattoo.

“I’m standing here for people who can’t be here, or people who are in jail, or people that want to go to the military but because they listen to ICP they can’t be in the army,” said Cantu, who was attending his first protest, “I don’t think it’s right for us to be judged for what we like to listen to.”   

The Alt-Right associated Mother Of All Rallies happened about a mile away at the same time and was marginally smaller, but the Alt-Right rally did not bring the world’s premier clownface rap group onto one of the most recognizable American landmarks.

Stephen Barton holding his Juggalo flag. Photo Credit: Rhys Baker.
Stephen Barton holding his Juggalo flag. Photo Credit: Rhys Baker.

A video on the website for the march features the painted faces of ICP, Joseph “Violent J” Bruce and Joseph “Shaggy 2 Dope” Utsler. Farris “The Juggalawyer” Haddid breaks down the more complex details about permitting and behavior guidelines for the rally. In an expletive-filled eight minutes they tell viewers about an uptick in venues refusing to host them and towns denying their permit requests. They ask their followers to travel to the rally, and remain civil and sober while there.

The Juggalo fanbase are dedicated. I spoke with Miranda “Triplesix” Edwards and Steph “Vivid Virago” Mayhall about their fandom. The 34-year-olds have a three decade friendship in which they have been to over 100 ICP shows together. It takes Triplesix two-and-a-half hours to don her gothic style, and the Juggalos apparently see her as a minor celebrity. While we spoke several groups interrupted us to get photos with her.

Vivid Virago told me that she attended the event because she felt discriminated against. She said, “Abuse of power is my big thing here, I don’t want or feel comfortable with allowing police or our government to decide at their discretion if we should be tried as gang members or not just because of a ridiculous decision that has no basis in fact.”

 Allison Hrabar handing out snacks and flyers for Democratic Socialists of America at the Juggalo March On Washington. Photo Credit: Rhys Baker.
Allison Hrabar handing out snacks and flyers for Democratic Socialists of America at the Juggalo March On Washington. Photo Credit: Rhys Baker.

On a hill behind the stage was a group holding the red flags of the Democratic Socialists of America. Allison Hrabar, 23, handed out soda, snacks, and flyers which her chapter of DSA had designed specifically to introduce the Juggalo crowd to Socialism.

“We decided to come out here and show some solidarity with Juggalos today because we don’t believe that anybody should be targeted by law enforcement,” said Hrabar.

“We don’t want to march, we don’t want to pretend like we’re Juggalos. We just thought we’d offer some information to people so we made up some flyers that talk about socialism, that talk about capitalism, and then hand out snacks and hopefully have some conversations,” she said about their recruitment efforts. The DSA contingent had shipped-in Faygo for the event and ran out before the event was half-way through.

The Juggalo community came to DC to fight against discrimination. They brought their “weird family” vibe, as described by Triplesix, to the Nation’s capital because their community were being marginalized and obstructed from holding public events.

Photo Credit: Rhys Baker
Photo Credit: Rhys Baker

The whole world, or a good portion of it, really was watching. The spectacle of a mass of adults dressed as clowns and goths, with big hairstyles, gaudy colors, and crass signs brought attention to their plight and exposed America to their civil behavior and strange rap. They might need to continue their campaign, but using civil advocacy like this could get them declassified as a gang, especially if the group continues to act in legal, nonviolent ways.

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Rhys Baker

Rhys is a Washington D.C. reporter. He is mad as hell that humanity is not responding to climate change, or racial and gender injustices in a meaningful way. He reports from the capital because he wants to bring attention to the people, organizations, and movements who are overturning historical oppressions one action, march, rally or campaign at a time.