Juggalo gangs

Last updated
Founding location Detroit
Years activeMid-2000s–present [1]
EthnicityPredominantly White [2] [3] [4] (Several of the members are also Native Americans, African Americans and Mestizos, as well as mixed-Caucasian) [2]
Criminal activitiesMurder, assault, drug trafficking, weapon trafficking, arson, burglary, robbery, theft, extortion, racketeering, dog fighting, auto theft [1] [2] [5]
AlliesAryan Brothers Liberation [2]
Aryan Brotherhood [2]
Aryan Circle [2]
211 Crew [2]
Ku Klux Klan [2]
Sureños [2]
Bloods [2]
Crips [2]
Vice Lords [2]
People Nation [2]
Folk Nation [2]
Gangster Disciples [2]
Black Disciples [2]
Maniac Latin Disciples [2]
Spanish Cobras [2]
Simon City Royals [2]

Juggalo (or Juggalette for females) is a name given to dedicated fans of the rap group Insane Clown Posse or any other Psychopathic Records artist. [5] Juggalo subculture originated from ad hoc fan groups for horrorcore hip hop music; in recent years, criminal groups began using the name "Juggalo" and associated imagery from mainstream Juggalo culture. [1] [2] [3] [6] As a result, Juggalos have been classified as a criminal street gang by government and law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, [3] the National Gang Intelligence Center, [2] and the states of Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, and Utah. [2] [3] Juggalo gang sets have been documented by law enforcement in at least 21 states, [3] including those that do not recognize Juggalos as a gang at the state level. [2]

Insane Clown Posse American hip hop musical group

Insane Clown Posse, often abbreviated as ICP, is an American hip hop duo composed of Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope. Founded in Detroit in 1989, Insane Clown Posse performs a style of hardcore hip hop known as horrorcore and is known for its elaborate live performances. The duo has earned two platinum and five gold albums. According to Nielsen SoundScan, the entire catalog of the group has sold 6.5 million units in the United States and Canada as of April 2007. The group has established a dedicated following called Juggalos numbering in the "tens of thousands".

Psychopathic Records, also known as The Hatchet, is an American independent record label based in Farmington Hills, Michigan that specializes in hip hop music. The label was founded in 1991 by Alex Abbiss and hip hop group Insane Clown Posse. The iconography of a man with a meat cleaver has been used for years as a symbol of the group, its fanbase, and its associates.


A juggalo is a fan of the group Insane Clown Posse or any other Psychopathic Records hip hop group. Juggalos have developed their own idioms, slang, and characteristics. The Gathering of the Juggalos, alternatively known as just "The Gathering", is a notable annual festival held by juggalos and the artists that they support, which have included rap stars such as Busta Rhymes, Ice Cube, and MC Hammer; over its first eleven events, the festival had an average attendance of about 10,000 fans, with a peak of 20,000 in 2010.


Juggalo gangs band together under the Juggalo banner in order to engage in patterns of criminal activity. Unlike members of the general Juggalo subculture, [2] these gangs have handbooks detailing gang ranks and responsibilities, [4] and commit crimes for financial gain. [2]

The National Gang Intelligence Center has also predicted that "The formation of rivalries or alliances to gangs outside their group will allow the Juggalos to evolve into a more sophisticated criminal entity through associations with hardened, experienced gang members."

Insane Clown Posse objects to characterizations of its fanbase as a gang, and has challenged the Federal gang designation in court. In December 2017 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that ICP failed to demonstrate harm caused by the FBI's 2011 report.

Criminal activities

According to the National Gang Intelligence Center, there are more than one million self-proclaimed Juggalos across the United States. It is estimated that 85–90% of self-described Juggalos are peaceful, non-criminal music fans. The other 10–15% make up the Juggalo subculture's criminal element, which has been linked to numerous crimes including extortion, murder, domestic terrorism, drive-by shootings, drug trafficking, arson, burglary, armed robbery, aggravated assault, and weapon offenses, and has been documented collaborating with a wide array of street and prison gangs. [1] [2] [3] [5]

Not to be confused with National Ground Intelligence Center.

Extortion criminal offense

Extortion is a criminal offense of obtaining money, property, or services from an individual or institution, through coercion. It is sometimes euphemistically referred to as a "protection racket" since the racketeers often phrase their demands as payment for "protection" from threats from unspecified other parties; though often, and almost always, such "protection" is simply abstinence of harm from the same party, and such is implied in the "protection" offer. Extortion is commonly practiced by organized crime groups. The actual obtainment of money or property is not required to commit the offense, and making a threat of violence which refers to a requirement of a payment of money or property to halt future violence is sufficient to commit the offense. Exaction refers not only to extortion or the demanding and obtaining of something through force, but additionally, in its formal definition, means the infliction of something such as pain and suffering or making somebody endure something unpleasant.

A series of arsons on a Navajo reservation have been linked to a local Juggalo gang set, which uses arson as a way to increase Juggalos' rank within the gang. [1]

Navajo Nation Reservation

The Navajo Nation is a Native American territory covering about 17,544,500 acres, occupying portions of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico in the United States. This is the largest land area retained by a Native American tribe, with a population of roughly 350,000 as of 2016.

Indian reservation land managed by Native American tribes under the US Bureau of Indian Affairs

An Indian reservation is a legal designation for an area of land managed by a federally recognized Native American tribe under the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs rather than the state governments of the United States in which they are physically located. Each of the 326 Indian reservations in the United States is associated with a particular Native American nation. Not all of the country's 567 recognized tribes have a reservation—some tribes have more than one reservation, while some share reservations. In addition, because of past land allotments, leading to some sales to non–Native Americans, some reservations are severely fragmented, with each piece of tribal, individual, and privately held land being a separate enclave. This jumble of private and public real estate creates significant administrative, political, and legal difficulties.

In 2008, members of a Blood-affiliated Juggalo set known as the Southwest Bloods were convicted of aggravated assault after one member was required to stab a man in order to leave the gang. [1]

Bloods Street gang founded in Los Angeles, California

The Bloods, also known as Original Blood Family (OBF), are a primarily African-American street gang founded in Los Angeles, California. The gang is widely known for its rivalry with the Crips. They are identified by the red color worn by their members and by particular gang symbols, including distinctive hand signs.

Juggalos in Rose Hill, Fairfax County, Virginia have been linked to the Gangster Disciples. [7] [7]

Rose Hill, Fairfax County, Virginia Census-designated place in Virginia, United States

Rose Hill is a census-designated place (CDP) in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States. The population was 20,226 at the 2010 census. Built in the mid-1950s, Rose Hill is the largest of the subdivisions that make up the CDP, which is just southwest of Alexandria; others include Wilton Woods, Burgundy Village, and Winslow Heights. Street addresses are in Alexandria ZIP codes 22310, 22303 and 22315.

Gangster Disciples criminal gang which was formed on the South-side of Chicago

The Gangster Disciples are a criminal street gang which was formed in the Southside of Chicago in the late 1960s, by Larry Hoover, leader of the Supreme Gangsters, and David Barksdale, leader of the Black Disciples. The two groups united to form the Black Gangster Disciple Nation (BGDN). The 6-point star stands for Love, Life, Loyalty, Knowledge, Wisdom, Understanding. In Chicago, the Gangster Disciples have a long and bitter rivalry with the Black Disciples. Since their creation, the Gangster Disciples have branched out throughout the United States.

Juggalos were identified by the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety as the most actively recruiting gang in New Jersey in 2010. [8]

Also in 2010, a Juggalette who was not affiliated with any gang was assaulted by a new Juggalo gang called the Juggalo Killers, who knocked her unconscious before carving the letters "JK" into her chest, because they wanted to be the only group wearing Insane Clown Posse merchandise in their territory. [2]

In 2012, a Juggalo gang member, who was wanted for violating probation, was placed on New Mexico's most wanted list. [9]

Juggalos in Oregon have been reported to have extorted homeless and homosexual individuals on the street with the threat of beatings. [2]

In August 2013, a Juggalo street gang member was arrested on charges of attempted murder, battery with a deadly weapon and possession of a controlled substance for allegedly attacking a cyclist with two meat cleavers in northeast Las Vegas, calling the man a "snitch". [10]

Also in 2013, a Juggalo member in Washington state allegedly stabbed a boy at a birthday party after being mocked for his Juggalo affiliation. [11]

Rivalries and alliances with other street and prison gangs

The National Gang Intelligence Center has noted a high number of Juggalo sets with ties to the Los Angeles-based Bloods gang, although the reason why Juggalos align themselves with Bloods sets remains unclear. In at least one case, the gangs aligned because they share the same gang color (red). [2] Bloods and Juggalos have also collaborated to commit drive-by shootings. [2]

In Pennsylvania, the Bloods and Crips dominate the incarcerated Juggalo gangs and use them for recruitment. In addition, certain Juggalo gangs have allied with violent prison gangs, including the Aryan Brotherhood, Aryan Circle, 211 Crew, and Aryan Brothers Liberation. [2]

Potential for violence

Juggalo gang members are notable for their tendency toward extremely brutal and wanton violence. Juggalo gangs generally prefer edged weapons such as hatchets, machetes, and medieval battle-axes to firearms, and said gangs have been linked to a string of grisly murders throughout the United States. [6] According to the National Gang Intelligence Center, Juggalo gangs are a threat to the community because of their tendency for violence against law enforcement, innocent civilians, and other members of their group, and Juggalos in Colorado have become increasingly involved in violent crime, including aggravated assault and homicide. [2]

Several law enforcement officers have commented on the Juggalo gang's tendency toward extreme violence. Arizona Department of Public Safety Detective Michelle Vasey has also expressed concern at the Juggalos high potential for violence, stating "The weapons, they prefer, obviously, hatchets ... We've got battle-axes, we've got machetes, anything that can make the most violent, gruesome wound," and "Some of the homicides we're seeing with these guys are pretty nasty, gruesome, disgusting homicides, where they don't care who's around, what's around, they're just out to kill anybody." [6]

Juggalos are listed in Montana's official handbook of security threat groups, which states that Juggalos are "a threat to law enforcement" and "very violent, Like Many blood sets

Outside the United States

On June 28, 2010, three youths in Fairfield, Australia believed to have been Juggalos attempted to rob a 20-year-old woman waiting outside a club. [12]

Differences between criminal and non-criminal Juggalos

Juggalo gang experts have stressed that not all self-proclaimed Juggalos are criminals or gang members. Detective Michelle Vasey has commented, "I don't want people to go out there and look at every Juggalo and say, 'Oh, he's a gang member, he's got a machete and he's going to slice and dice everybody.' But people need to be aware that there are huge issues that have evolved in just the last three years both in the eastern and western United States where we've got multiple individuals committing gang-related crimes, gang-motivated crimes, and they're using the name Juggalo." [6]

According to law enforcement research, including an interview with an admitted Juggalo gang member, the Juggalo subculture has recently split into two very different groups: the music fans and the criminal street gang. Some members of the Juggalos street gang even look down on non-criminal Juggalos, considering them to be weak, [2] and criminal Juggalo gangs have committed attacks on non-gang-related Juggalos.

These criminal Juggalo subsets are being formed by a new generation of Juggalos who are attempting to evolve the Juggalo subculture into a collection of smaller gangs or cliques. [2]

The Juggalo subculture has several features in common with traditional gangs, including throwing hand signs, wearing matching clothing, and getting matching tattoos. [1] However, criminal Juggalo subsets contain gang-like features that the general Juggalo population does not, including gang initiations, handbooks detailing rules and punishments for gang members, formal leadership structure, gang colors, and the tendency to engage in organized patterns of serious criminal activity. [1] [2] [4]

Police officers in Sacramento have stated that while a fast-growing gang using the Juggalo name is contained within the Juggalo subculture, most Juggalos are law-abiding citizens, which makes it difficult to tell the difference between Juggalo gang members and Juggalo fans. [13]

Reaction of artists and FBI lawsuit

The FBI's classification of Juggalos as a gang has caused confusion, resulting in many peaceful, non-criminal Juggalos being mistaken for their criminal counter-parts by police and by ordinary citizens.[ citation needed ] This type of confusion along with the fact that Hot Topic will no longer stock Psychopathic Records merchandise in states that legally consider Juggalos to be a gang, has prompted Insane Clown Posse to file a lawsuit against the FBI. [14] In December 2012, ICP and Psychopathic Records quietly agreed to withdraw as plaintiffs in the case,[ citation needed ] and the FBI later released a report justifying their decision to classify Juggalos as a gang. However, ICP later announced that they would follow through with the lawsuit anyway.[ citation needed ] On August 23, 2013, the FBI asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit against them. [15]

In an interview given in 2013, Shaggy 2 Dope of Insane Clown Posse addressed the Juggalo gang classification and the impending FBI lawsuit. He stated that at first he believed that the classification of Juggalos was "pretty dope" because it would afford the band a tougher image, but later changed his mind after realizing the negative repercussions of being labeled a gang, such as gang enhancements for Juggalos who commit crimes. He also expressed concern about innocent Juggalos being targeted in "Shithole, Nebraska" by MS-13 members. He argued that while some Juggalos are criminals and gang members, he does not believe that Juggalos as a whole constitute a gang. [16]

In January 2014 Insane Clown Posse along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed suit again against the FBI. The suit aimed to have Juggalos no longer considered to be a gang and to have any "criminal intelligence information" about Juggalos destroyed. [17] The suit was dismissed in July 2014, ruling that that band and its fans lack standing to bring the suit. The ACLU has stated that it intends to appeal the dismissal. [18] [19]

In September 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati overruled the circuit court [20] and remanded the case for action consistent with the ruling. [21] No court date has been set.

On September 16, 2017, a rally was held in front if the Washington Monument reflective pool in Washington, D.C. marching for the declassification of Juggalos as gang members. [22]

In December 2017 the Sixth Circuit ruled that ICP failed to demonstrate harm caused by the FBI's 2011 report. [23]

Gang identifiers

Gang identifiers used by Juggalo gang members include, but are not limited to:

Perspective of law enforcement officers and gang investigators

The emergence of Juggalo gang subsets has created a sharp divide between gang investigators in the United States, with some considering the entire subculture to fit the definition of a criminal gang, while others stress that the subculture's criminal element makes up only a small portion of the Juggalo population. [1] A report released by the National Gang Intelligence Center in 2010 supports the latter assertion. [2]

A report released by the Rocky Mountain Information Network states that, "Just because we do not understand this phenomenon fully, we can’t as gang detectives ignore it ... We in law enforcement must be willing to take that extra step in our intelligence gathering to see if we are in fact dealing with a gang member or just a crazed fan." [1]

Detective Michelle Vasey has stated that not all Juggalos are violent or criminals, and the music is not to blame: "We can't necessarily say that [the music's] to blame. But I think it definitely does have some influences. As an officer we have to decide when we're talking to these guys, who do we need to worry about and who don't we need to worry about." [6]

Police Lt. Scott Conley has stated, "Those involved in the criminal side of (Juggalos) cause us some concern. If they are not involved in criminal activity, they can do their own thing, as long as they haven't crossed that criminal element line ... The attraction to that music, or those people following that music, I have no problem with. When they start breeding disruption in the community, showing up in libraries to harm people with butcher knives up their sleeves, I have a problem. I have to get involved with the community."

The official web site of Montana's department of corrections contains an explanation for Juggalos' classification as a security threat group: "the Juggalos are a recognized STG group that would never classify itself as a street gang. They are more like a cult that follows mimics and idolizes the music group, Insane Clown Posse. The music encourages and condones extreme acts of violence, which some Juggalos carry out. Juggalo members paint their faces black and white, dress in black clothing, attend raves together that often end violently, and consider themselves a family." [24]

However, some law enforcement officers have been firm in their assertion that Juggalos are a criminal group. Police watch commander Jay Mackanin of Citrus Heights has stated that, "Juggalos are a gang. I know sometimes they say they're not, but they are." [25]

Kelly Snyder, a former Drug Enforcement Administration officer who tracks Juggalo activity across the U.S., has stated that "It almost has the taste of a cult...The perception is that something is obviously not right here...It's not going to stop. So far they are almost committing the perfect crime." [26]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Further reading