The Insane Clown Posse, a rap group with multiple platinum albums, is suing the federal government to have its loyal fan base removed from a national listing of known gangs.
One of those fans, Brandon Bradley from Citrus Heights in Northern California, claims police repeatedly stopped him because of his tattoos and clothing hailing the Insane Clown Posse.
Bradley isn't alone. Fans of the group -- also known as "Juggalos" -- claim they get harassed by local authorities from California to Tennessee for wearing group-inspired tattoos and clothing.
The lawsuit, filed in a Michigan federal court Wednesday, claims the group has had shows canceled partly as a result of the alleged harassment.
Bradley says police stopped him in September 2012 as was riding his bike home and interrogated him about his Insane Clown Posse-themed shirt and tattoos. He was stopped again the next month in Sacramento for the same reason and again in January 2013 while he was walking, according to the suit.
He says in the suit that he stopped wearing clothes tied to the group because of the encounters.
According to the National Gang Intelligence Center’s 2011 threat assessment, crimes committed by Juggalos are “sporadic, disorganized, individualistic and often involve simple assault, personal drug use…petty theft and vandalism.”
Only four states -- California, Pennsylvania, Utah and Arizona -- have officially designated Juggalos as a gang. Subsets of the rap group's fan base are organizing and committing felony assaults, robberies and drug sales, according to the federal assessment. For the most part, however, Juggalos lack organization and structure, the assessment concluded.
Attorneys for the band criticized the assessment, arguing in the lawsuit that “organized crime is by no means a part of Juggalo culture."
“When Juggalos come together at concerts or their annual week-long gathering every summer, they know they are in a community where all people are equal and where they will be accepted and respected for who they are,” according to the lawsuit.
Insane Clown Posse was founded in Farmington Hills, Mich., in 1991 by Joseph Bruce, known as Violent J, and Joseph Utsler, known as Shaggy 2 Dope. Its fans are known for donning clown makeup and wearing band insignia, including its Hatchetman logo of a dreadlocked person running with a cleaver.
The government has yet to respond to the lawsuit.
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