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Insane Clown Posse files new suit against FBI

Insane Clown Posse has filed a new lawsuit against the government on behalf of its devoted listeners, a closely knit community of people who call themselves Juggalos and whom the FBI identified as a gang in 2011. The Michigan hip-hop duo claim the label has hurt sales of their merchandise and that the Juggalos around the country have been harassed by police solely because of their association with the group.

The band had previously sued the government in 2012 seeking FBI documents. The new suit, which includes lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, argues that the FBI’s inclusion of the Juggalos in a report from the bureau’s National Gang Intelligence Center was “unwarranted and unlawful.”

The plaintiffs include Joseph Bruce and Joseph Utsler, who use the names Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope when they perform together as Insane Clown Posse.

“We’re not a gang, we’re a family. We’re a diverse group of men and women, united by our love of music and nothing more. We’re not a threat, a public menace or a danger to society,” Shaggy 2 Dope told reporters at a press conference in Detroit, according to The New York Times.

Four Juggalos are also listed as plaintiffs. In the complaint, they describe the difficulties they have encountered as a result of being seen as members of a gang.

Jeff Engstrom, a lawyer who calls himself a juggalo, wrote a self-deprecating blog post in which argues that the FBI’s designation was absurd:

Shaggy 2 Dope is right. If our nation’s preeminent law enforcement agency is going to go to the trouble of compiling lists of gangs in this country, it hardly benefits anyone to get it so wrong, as they’ve done in this instance. To err on the side of defaming Detroit’s finest export since the Edsel, as they’ve done, does incalculable harm to those targeted, diverting attention and resources away from dismantling legitimate criminal enterprises. Say, for instance, Skrillex fans. . . .

Above the Law

The FBI has not made public its justification for identifying the Juggalos as a criminal enterprise. In response to the previous suit, the FBI gave Insane Clown Posse’s lawyers about 100 pages of documents, most of which were news articles, according to the Associated Press. The agency has declined to release additional information.

Max Ehrenfreund writes for Wonkblog and compiles Wonkbook, a daily policy newsletter. You can subscribe here. Before joining The Washington Post, Ehrenfreund wrote for the Washington Monthly and The Sacramento Bee.
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