DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – The U.S. Justice Department has urged a judge to dismiss a lawsuit that blames the government for the negative effect of describing fans of Insane Clown Posse as a “loosely organized hybrid gang.”
The rap-metal duo from the Detroit area says the 2011 FBI report violates the First Amendment. ICP’s fans, called Juggalos, say they’ve lost custody of children, lost jobs and been denied housing simply because they like the music.
Government attorney Amy Powell asked a federal judge in Detroit to throw out the case at a hearing Monday. She says the FBI is not responsible for how police agencies use information in the national gang report.
But Saura Sahu, an attorney for four fans, says the government went too far.
Sahu said the six-count lawsuit alleges that the FBI’s gang designation violates Juggalos’ rights to congregate. The lawsuit also alleges violation of group members’ rights to free speech, alleging that many fear repercussions if they openly identify themselves as Juggalos. The suit also raises questions about the lack of any clear criteria for distinguishing between average Juggalos and ICP fans who may actually be criminal suspects.
Self-described Juggalo David Johnson of Mount Clemens says the gang designation is ridiculous.
“I do think it’s silly because we wear their clothing and, you know, have tattoos,” Johnson told WWJ’s Charlie Langton. “I don’t even carry a gun, so how am I considered a gang member?”
Judge Robert Cleland says he’ll probably make a decision in July.
ICP has come under fire in recent years over drug use by their fans; especially at the annual “Gathering of the Jugglaos” where there have been several overdoses, and a few deaths. The festival, described as “Juggalo Woodstock,” draws thousands of attendees to a southern Illinois campground each year.
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