The FBI has just come out with a report that officially categorizes Juggalos as a gang. And one of the places where they're supposedly expanding is Washington state.
At trial last year, prosecutors had intended to argue that the murder was "gang-related." This approach, which seemed like something of a stretch, never got tested because the culprits settled.
Perhaps the just-released FBI report, known as the National Gang Threat Assessment, would have given legitimacy to that argument. According to the report:
Most crimes committed by Juggalos are sporadic, disorganized, individualistic, and often involve simple assault, personal drug use and possession, petty theft, and vandalism. However, open source reporting suggests that a small number of Juggalos are forming more organized subsets and engaging in more gang-like criminal activity, such as felony assaults, thefts, robberies, and drug sales.
"Open source reporting," by the way, is code for run-of-the mill media articles--the same source for a local crime mentioned in the FBI assessment. Late last year, a teenage couple walking along the Lake Wilderness Trail in Maple Valley was shot and wounded by an 18-year-old who identified with the Juggalos.
Yet is either that shooting or the Lopez murder indicative of gang behavior? The Lopez case, at least, seemed to be about two out-of-control young men who took it upon themselves to enforce some unwritten rules of the street. Some of the people in their rag tag clan egged them on, but the final deed didn't exactly seem organized.
Juggalos interviewed by Seattle Weekly insisted that being "down with the clown" was not about violence. Rather, it was about "family" and "loyalty" and outsiders who can at least say they belong to something. Our sister paper the Riverfront Times points out that some Juggalos, contrary to the FBI's trash talking, are starting charities.
Before we start putting a halo on these guys, though, let us mull over some lyrics from the Insane Clown Posse song "Chicken Huntin'
So tell Mr. Billy Bob
I'm a cut his neck up
Slice, poke, chop chop, stab, cut
What can you do with the drunken hillbilly
Cut his fucking eyes out and feed em to his Aunt Milly
Whether Juggalos are a gang or not, this is a subculture that flirts with violence.
As if on cue, word came down yesterday that police arrested two boys at Chimacum High School who tried to bring a machete and a meat cleaver to school. Initial reports peg the incident to tensions at the school between two groups of students, one of them Juggalos.