“I’m a 30 year old singer/songwriter and full-time student from Northern Virginia. I’m also a Juggalo; I have been since 2004. Allow me to provide a little background information on myself so that you might better understand my predicament.
I come from a well-to-do, Norman Rockwell-esque suburban family. My father was an Army colonel stationed in the Pentagon, my mother a teacher. I was an honor student, cheerleader, and marching band member, and worked very hard to maintain the preppy persona that was expected of me. It never quite fit though, and I made myself miserable trying to create a place for myself that wasn’t meant for me. I found the music of ICP when I was 17 and going through an extremely difficult and traumatic time in my life. I didn’t know any Juggalos, but something in the music made me somehow feel like I wasn’t alone. In many ways I credit it for saving my life. It helped me to find the peace to just be myself, instead of the person everyone else wanted me to be. Six years later when I finally did meet others like me, they immediately accepted me as family, and remain my best friends to this day.
Then, in 2014, I got into some legal trouble and ended up serving time for a DUI. I’m thankful that no one was injured by my immature decision, and had no problem whatsoever accepting the consequences of my poor choice. Actually, I see it as a positive in my life because upon my release I straightened my act up and enrolled back in college. I will graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Business next spring.
But then something happened that I did not anticipate. Upon check-in with my probation officer one day, she informed me that she could not see me until I had spoken with gang task force. Apparently a staff member had seen the Hatchetman tattoo on the back of my neck and was concerned. The officer in charge of the gang unit brought me back and asked me some questions about my affiliation with the Juggalo gang. I informed her that I was in no way a gang member, but a fan of ICP’s music, and that Juggalos were nothing more than a misunderstood fan base and sub-culture. She told me how Juggalos were thieves and murderers, I told her about all the good things we do, such as food drives and collecting water for Flint residents. I also told her that I had gotten my tattoo five years before the FBI gang label. She said that the fact that I knew of the gang label and had not disassociated myself with the Juggalos or covered my tattoos was proof enough to her that I was in the gang. She then validated me in the system as a gang member and gave me my new gang probation conditions. They were extensive, and included things such as random home visits, and the inability to set foot on any school grounds, even to see my niece’s dance recital. I would no longer be allowed to attend concerts or see my friends. I pleaded with her that my Juggalo friends were some of the most positive people in my life, and that attending shows was also helpful to me as a music business student. It made no difference. I had to provide all of my Facebook information, as any pictures showing my hatchet tattoos or having any person with Juggalo content on their profile on my friends list would be an automatic violation. She then informed me that were I to go back to jail I would not be able to leave solitary confinement, and were I go to go to prison it was mandatory that I would have to be housed at a maximum security facility. Also if I to be in the presence of a Juggalo who happened to commit a crime I would be charged with a gang crime whether I was involved or not. I was terrified and sobbing by the time I went home that day.
As I stated previously, I have no problem serving my debt to society for the crime that I committed. But being labeled a violent gang member for life for the music I choose to listen to is a crime in itself. ICP appeals to the misfits of our society, some of whom may be predisposed to committing crimes regardless of their choice in music, but not because of this musical preference. It should in no way be reflective of our community as a whole. I was released from probation in December 2016, after a failed try earlier in the year that was denied because of my gang status. However, I will forever be in the system as a gang member, subject to police harassment and constant fear that this will continue to affect me in my upcoming professional life as well as my personal life. Now that I can legally speak on my experience, I intend to speak out against this gross injustice placed upon the Juggalos and will not stop taking a stand until the gang label is removed.”
“On March 10, 2016 at 9:00 AM, I sent a text message to my immediate supervisor, Angela M., advising her that I was not feeling well and I would not be at work until 1:00 PM that day (I usually start work at 10:00 AM). At 10:30 AM, Angela M. called me and told me that something came up at work and asked that I come in to work ASAP. She would not give any details as to why I needed to come in sooner. I told her that I would be in by 1:00 PM. At 12:30 AM, I called Angela to let her know that I was on my way in to work and to ask her what was going on, she did not answer or call me back.
At 1:00 PM, I signed in to the outlook calendar at work from my desk. Immediately after doing so, the Chief, Tracy L., called my desk phone and asked me to come to her office. I told her that I would be right there. Already present in the Chief’s office was the Chief and Deputy Chief Hermene R. As soon as I sat down, the Chief handed me a one page document (the memo) and stated that effective immediately, I was being put on pre-disciplinary leave. She then read the memo to me.
As soon as she mentioned Juggalo, I told her that I am strictly just a fan of Insane Clown Posse’s music and have been since 1997. The Chief cut me off and would not allow me to speak anymore and told me to sign the document. She then told me that she would be following me back to my office (other side of the building) where I would be allowed to collect only my purse and then she would be escorting me to my car.
At 1:07 PM, as the Chief was escorting me to my office, I tried to ask her questions about what was going on because I was very confused and she would not answer any questions. Specifically, I asked her “Exactly what am I being accused of, Tracy?” she replied “That is what the meeting tomorrow morning will cover.” Right before the Chief escorted me out of the door to the parking lot, I told her that I was
extremely confused and had no idea what was going on and that I merely listen to ICP’s music and don’t even know another person who listens to their music. She replied “Whatever, Jessica, your boyfriend is a Juggalo.” I also asked her if she was aware of the current litigation in the Michigan Federal Court Circuit on this subject. She replied “That does not matter, this is Virginia”. I then left the building as we were at the exit door.
I was so upset I could not process what was going on any wasn’t even sure what was going on. On my drive home I called my parents. They advised me to call some of my attorney friends to seek assistance. I was only able to get a hold of one, Anita Baldock who is an Asst. CW Attorney in Fauquier, she advised me to call an employment lawyer because my situation was not her field and she did not want to give
me bad information. I contacted one other person to seek advice on my situation, Sarah Postema, a co-worker from my office. She is included on my witness list. Unfortunately, she was not able to provide any guidance.
On March 11, 2016 at 7:30 AM, after staying up all night trying to figure this out, I called the Chief and left her a voicemail at 7:30 am, asking her to delay the meetng because I did not have time to contact anyone regarding this, such as an attorney, and I wanted the opportunity to speak with HR or an EEO. She called me immediately back and demanded that I come in. I told her that I did not want to go alone and that I felt very ill-equipped and unprepared and was not sure of what was even going on. She replied everything would be explained at the meeting (false claim). She told me that I would be given a chance to speak on my behalf regarding the allegations (not true). I told her that due to the nature of the allegations, I wanted someone else there on my behalf; she said that was not necessary and told me to get in my car and come to the office. As soon as I arrived, she advised me that I was terminated due to "liking" a few clown pictures and music artists on Facebook. She then told me that due to the "overwhelming" evidence, I was not allowed to offer any mitigating statements. Prior to her stating that I was terminated, I again requested to speak with HR. She denied my request again and stated "HR already knows and this is already done". I was then handed a termina_on packet which included ten 8x10 printouts of pictures on Facebook that I had "liked" or shared, most pertaining to clowns and nothing even remotely "gang related". Right before she escorted me off the property, I asked her for clarification and stated "So, I am being terminated for the type of music I listen to while not at work?" She replied, "Yes".
As to the Chief’s comment about my boyfriend being a Juggalo, due to the Chief’s tone when she called him that, I could tell that she was not referring to him a “Juggalo/fan of ICP music” but as a “Juggalo/gang member”. My boyfriend just started listening to ICP approximately one year ago because I am always listening to that music. Other than my boyfriend who now listens to the same genre due to me introducing him to the music, I do not even know, much less associate with, anyone else that is also afan of ICP’s music.
In 2011, the FBI released the National Gang Threat Assessment Report that listed “The Juggalos” as a “loosely-organized hybrid gang”. Due to this label, I have gone out of my way to distance myself from associating my favorite band’s music. To include: not getting ICP tattoos, not putting band stickers on my cars or motorcycles, and not attending their annual music festival. I also do not talk to, chat, or associate with any other fans. My reasoning for this is because I know that law enforcement looks at and treats ICP fans negatively due to the FBI’s 2011 report (the 2013 report no longer includes the Juggalos) as such, working in the field of law enforcement, I figured that just listening to the music could warrant a possible investigation (erroneous in my opinion). And since, even the FBI recognized and listed on their 2011 report, that there is a difference between, “juggalo-name given to fans of ICP music” and “Juggalo-hybrid gang member” that any investigation as to my association with ICP would conclude that I am only a fan of the music.
I do not hide my interest in this music. In fact, in 2011, while I was interning for the Department of Juvenile Justice in Prince William County, I told Senior Probation Officer, Brady B., who is in charge of the gang unit, that I have been a major fan of ICP since 1997. I also showed him pictures of all the ICP memorabilia that I have collected over the years. This conversation sparked after I saw a picture of ICP’s record label logo on Mr. Buckles’ office wall and asked him about it.Many of my co-workers from DJJ and DOC knew that I have been a longtime fan of ICP.”
“I have been labeled a gang member because of my Hatchet Man tattoo and a few leg tattoos that are related to Insane Clown Posse. I have never been in a gang—and never will be. I don't understand how an individual completely minding his own business can be harassed and pulled over, put in a gang profile and looked at like a criminal. Yes, I am a Juggalo but a gang member? Please. I'm in college, have a clean record and am a really open minded person that loves all kinds of music. Yet, it seems like I can’t step foot outside my door without being stopped or harassed by a police officer or a gang detective. They have asked me to lift up my shirt and see my tattoos, searched my pockets, asked where I live or where I'm going when I haven't even committed a crime. All I'm ever doing is walking to school or to work. The local police now recognize me as a gang member despite my completely clean record. I want to pursue a career in law enforcement and have always had a passion for being a cop or a criminal investigator but how am I supposed to have the job I have always wanted when I myself am getting investigated when no crimes are being committed? It’s just ridiculous.”
Citrus Height, CA
Brandon went on to be one of the Juggalo plaintiffs in the Psychopathic Records/ACLU of Michigan lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice.
“I decided to join the Army and when I talked to my recruiter he asked about my tattoos. I told him I had a Hatchetman on my chest and ICP on the other side of my chest. I was told that due to the fact that Juggalos were added to the gang list, my tattoos were considered gang tags and I would not be able to join unless I was willing to have the tattoos covered up. So I went and sat through hours of pain to have the two tattoos covered up. If it wouldn’t have been for the Juggalos being added to the gang list, my recruiter said I would not have had to have them covered up. I was and still am greatly disappointed that I was not going to be able to serve my country because of two tattoos I got at an early age being falsely considered gang tags due to the FBI adding the Juggalos to the gang list.”
Scott also went on to be one of the Juggalo plaintiffs in the Psychopathic Records/ACLU of Michigan lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice.
“I lost custody of my daughter recently during a custody battle with the father. The father brought my music preferences in to question at the hearings, calling the courts attention to my being a Juggalo. He told the court that Juggalos are ‘meth head cult members who are extremely violent and listen to the Insane Clown Posse together.’ Even though I have only baked cookies, played Guitar Hero, taken walks, played with our children at the park, etc. with the Juggalos that I know.
I ended up having to go through an expensive drug assessment, even though the father didn't accuse me of current drug use at that time. The guardian ad litem's reasoning for this drug assessment was actually because she thought it was important that I prove my credibility to the court since I am a Juggalo. The father submitted pictures of me wearing face paint and a picture of my daughter and I baking a cookie in the shape of a hatchetman.
As soon as the custody hearing began, it seemed like it was all about the Juggalo issue. I ended up losing primary custody of her and now get to see my daughter three weekends per month. I don't get to participate in any of her school activities unless the father grants permission to do so.
I don't understand how baking a cookie or wearing face paint like a clown-- nothing more, nothing less--could be used as such powerful ammo against me in court. The father made up an entire case of lies and won his case because the court ate up everything he said after the Juggalo issue was brought up.”
“I was in Indianapolis about three months ago and went into a gas station. As I was heading to get a soda the clerk said, ‘Hey, we don't serve your kind here.’ I was confused so I asked ‘What do you mean by that, sir?’ Then he said ‘You’re wearing that ICP Juggalo stuff and Juggalos are a gang. You have two choices, son. One, you leave my store nice and calm or two, I call the law.’ So I left but I still don't think that was right.”
“I went to the Department of Motor Vehicles the other day to get my driver’s license and my car has a Hatchet Man sticker on the back windshield. When I got there, the lady who was doing my test told me that I couldn’t use my car because it was ‘gang related.’ I asked her how and she replied ‘You should know. You’re in the Juggalo gang.’ Additionally, I have a Hatchet Man tattoo on my chest and I was denied from joining the military due to the tattoo being supposedly ‘gang related.’ I don’t understand it. I know people who have tattoos of other bands like the Grateful Dead or Lady Gaga – why aren’t they classified like Juggalos are?”
“A few months ago, I was in New York City visiting a friend. I was walking down the street wearing a shirt containing the six Joker’s Cards. I was harassed by the NYPD and nearly got arrested.
It began when I was walking through St. Marks Place in Manhattan. I was browsing through the gift shops when all of a sudden an NYPD cruiser approached me with the lights flashing. Two police officers exited the vehicle and demanded that I stop walking and stay were I was. They insisted that I stand against the wall of a building. They threatened to arrest me if I did not obey their commands. One officer began to search me while the other was asking me a series of questions like “What’s your name? Where are you from? Where are you going? Do you have any drugs on you?”
I explained to them that I wasn’t doing anything wrong and they had no right to search me. They threatened to take me to jail if I said another word. After searching me and finding nothing, a dark colored vehicle pulled up next to the police car. A man dressed relatively casually exited the vehicle holding a digital camera. He took three or four pictures of myself and my clothing. I was asked to turn around so he could snap a picture of the Hatchet Man on the back of my T-shirt. The police went through my bag and took a few shots of the other Psychopathic clothing that I had. After the man got his pictures, he drove off.
The police told me to go back to were I was staying. They told me that they don’t want to see me walking the streets for the rest of the night. They gave me all of my stuff back while looking at me like I was a bug that needed to be squashed. They then got back into their car and drove off. I was completely incapable of defending myself due to the threat of being arrested if I spoke.
I am a good, law abiding American citizen who was treated like a criminal because I was wearing a T-shirt of a band that I admire. I am not a gang member, I have no criminal record, I do not traffic or use drugs, I attend college and I happen to be a fan of Psychopathic Records. There was no reason for the authorities to treat me the way that they did.”
“I have been forced to no longer represent the artists I like from Psychopathic Records due to repeated profiling by the police simply for wearing Insane Clown Posse merchandise. I've been stopped multiple times for nothing more than walking down the street. I'm then questioned about gang affiliation and talked down to about my choice of attire. When I asked why I’ve been pulled over, I get a vague answer such as "You fit the description of a suspect." I'm a culinary arts/ business major at Shasta College, one of the most successful former foster youth in the area and am about as gangster as a Care Bear.”
“My name is Jason. I am a recently retired Army Specialist who has been a Juggalo for over 10 years now. I have been over to Afghanistan and served this country proudly. I was over there from 2009-2010. I have earned several awards and medals for my time there, however in early 2012, a staff sergeant noticed my hatchetman tattoo, which I had for over five years now and told me I need to get it covered or removed. The Army I served with and government I once believed in has turned their back on me. They threatened to kick me out. I received my honorable discharge in August, but I have been barred from re-enlistment because of my tattoos.
Just a few weeks ago, I was taken into Lake County Jail because I was wearing my blue Twiztid jersey at a store and the cops ran my ID and found a warrant. I asked the cops why they stopped me and was told it was because of gang related activities. When I was being booked, the officer doing it asked me if I had
any tattoos. I kindly told the cop I have the crest of the Corps of Engineers for the time I spent as a combat engineer, a cross on my back, a scroll on my side, and when I pulled my sleeve up, she saw the Hatchetman and told me I have to be put in the system as a gang member. When I asked her why, she told me it was because of my tattoo.
Because of this garbage that people are saying about Juggalos and that we are a gang, even though I know we aren't…I have been barred from re-enlistment in the Army, profiled for the clothes I wear, and I have been labeled in the legal system as a gang member. My life has damn near been destroyed. If it wasn't for my Juggalo family I would have nothing.”
Jason S. (No photo available)
(originally published at www.hatchetherald.com)
“My daughter started listening to Insane Clown Posse years ago. I kept hearing bad things about Juggalos, so I decided to listen to the music myself. I really like the fact that they embrace the ‘Family’ idea regarding their fans and I've witnessed Juggalos helping each other out. I became a fan of the music and the lifestyle. I'm not your ‘typical’ Juggalo — I'm 46 years old, a certified optician, certified ophthalmic assistant and I've been employed at the only neuro-ophthalmology clinic in the state of Nevada for years. I'm a medical professional and I'm a Juggalo. My daughter is 20. When she was still in high school, she was suspended for wearing a Hatchetman T-shirt and necklace. I came to the school in my work scrubs wearing a Hatchetman necklace with the intent of arguing her First Amendment rights. I was told by the principal as well as the school police officer that they considered Juggalos to be gang members, and as such, they were not allowed to wear their ‘colors’ on school grounds.
I said ‘I'm a 42 year old medical professional and I'm a Juggalo. I paid cash for my house and cash for my Lexus. Am I a gang member?’ There was no response. While we were in the school, a kid came in wearing a Tupac T-shirt. I pointed him out and said ‘You know, Tupac was shot to death in gang-related violence.’ I was told that Tupac was not considered a gang member. That young man was allowed to recite a Tupac song in his school drama class, while my daughter Kelsie, was NOT allowed to recite an ICP song (that contained A LOT less violent content than the Tupac song). I pulled my daughter out of that school and she finished her diploma through a high school at the local community college where they had no problem allowing her to wear her Hatchet Gear.
Our local malls have both banned wearing Hatchet Gear attire and will physically remove anyone caught wearing it on the premises. I was asked to leave the mall when I came in wearing a Hatchetman necklace. I told the security guard ‘I bought this necklace right there at Hot Topic. They sell this stuff and yet you're telling me I can't wear it?’ He didn't answer me, just escorted me to the door. Both Hot Topic and Spencer’s Gifts have since stopped selling Hatchet Gear as they were told that it is gang attire. As a result, they've lost a lot of business from the Reno Juggalo community. I think it's ludicrous that Juggalos are considered a gang when fans of say, Slipknot or Nickelback for that matter, are not.
Whoop Whoop! From a medical professional, mother, grandmother, poet, and proud Juggalette! FAMILY!”
Kat R. (shown with her daughter Kelsie)
“I went with my girlfriend to donate plasma. I have several tattoos, including a few related to Insane Clown Posse and Psychopathic Records. I asked what I needed to donate and the lady told me I needed state I.D., Social Security card and a proof of address. I gave her all of my information and she gave me a book to read after they checked my veins in my arms. The book covered the rules and concerns about plasma donation and said and if you have certain diseases (HIV, Hepatitis A, B, C,etc.) you can't donate. After waiting for three hours, I was finally called into a little booth and the nurse began taking me through the process, having me fill out paperwork and giving me payment information. She then took some blood to make sure everything in my blood was okay for donating and it was; she said it was ‘almost perfect’ for donating. Soon she began asking about my tattoos and piercing, asking questions like what they were and whether they were finished or not. She asked me to turn over my left arm and saw my Hatchet Man tattoo. She asked “Is that a Hatchet Man?” I replied “Yes it is. Why?” She then told me that they could not allow me to donate because Juggalos are on the Salt Lake City Metro Police gang list. I told her I was a fan of ICP and not a gangster and asked what difference a tattoo made if I was donating plasma that saves people’s lives every day. She just apologized and told me that was the policy so I was unable to donate plasma.”
Jeremiah S. (photo unavailable)
Salt Lake City, UT
There have been several instances my rights have been violated simply because I’m a Juggalo. I am no gang member. I am a very peaceful, hardworking middle class mother with a husband who I met at a concert years ago. But that’s not how I'm treated if I wear any Juggalo-related clothing or if my tattoos are visible. A few years back me and my family were escorted out of the fairgrounds because the police had noticed “too many” Juggalos walking around the fair that day. I was very embarrassed, my kids were upset; we were there for our kids to have fun, no other reason. In fanbases of other music bands there's always some idiot who is violent and does horrible things. Just because one nutcase does something horrible doesn’t mean you label the entire group. We have been treated badly for years now and most of us have to hide who we are to avoid harassment. That’s just not right. This is wrong and should be fixed.
Amanda A. (photo unavailable)
(originally published at www.hatchetherald.com)
I have been a Juggalo since 1996. In 2007 I got charged with possession of of Schedule II substances and was sentenced to eight years of probation. While on probation I was told I was not allowed to get any more ICP tattoos or wear their clothing to or around the probation department. My P.O. was cool and didn't make a big deal about it. Then last November I got into an accident and the cop would not listen to what I had to say and gave me a ticket for the accident because I was on the FBI Gang Task Force list and he saw my Hatchetman tat. I took the ticket to court and told the judge why the cop gave me the ticket and I took it all the way to trial and lost. I've had many cops pull me over and search my car and not give me a ticket because they found nothing. My brother just got out of prison and was told he violated his probation for having ICP CDs, posters, and shirts. As a result, he had to serve 30 more days of prison, go see the parole board and pay $500 for a lawyer to get released. His P.O. said if she even suspects he is listening to ICP, he will be back in prison.
Brandon S. (photo unavailable)
Federal Heights, CO
(originally published at www.hatchetherald.com)
I was sitting at the Orange Park Mall with a few friends and we were eating and shopping and just hanging out and the cops on duty there kicked us out for wearing our Juggalo gear. It seems we can't go anywhere without being kicked out of places, even if we’re just minding our own business. Even at an Anybody Killa show a couple of years ago, we were waiting to meet him and the cops didn't like us and even though we were being quiet and not causing any trouble, they told us to leave or they were going to arrest us. I'm tired of all of this bullying and discrimination.
Kristin R. (photo unavailable)
(originally published at www.hatchetherald.com)
All of the above stories of Juggalo discrimination were vetted, researched, and confirmed by Psychopathic Records’ legal team. However, we have received literally thousands of stories of Juggalos being harassed by law enforcement, denied custody of their children, or being added to a gang database simply for sporting a Hatchet man tattoo or article of clothing. According to attorney Farris Haddad, more than 10,000 stories of discrimination were collected in 2012 after Psychopathic Records announced they were suing the FBI at that year’s Gathering of the Juggalos.
Several Juggalos have emailed in their own story of discrimination and harassment via email and social media and while Psychopathic Records’ legal team has not had the time or manpower to vet these stories for accuracy (as we have with the above testimonies), we want to give every Juggalo a chance to tell their story firsthand at how they have been unjustly profiled or discriminated against simply for identifying as a Juggalo.
My name is Troy and about three years ago I was kicking back with some homies and a cop came up to us and started talking to. We were a group of colored males at a park and we started getting labeled and stereotyped. I had my hatchet man necklace on and I kid you not, this guy pulled me to his car and confiscated my Hatchetman charm because it was "gang related". I understand there's a bad apple in every tree but there are millions more good Juggalos than there are the ones who give us a bad name.
I was pulled over by police in Tulsa, OK with my two-year old niece in the car because I had Hatchetman and Hatchetgirl decals on my back window. I was ordered out of the car and thrown against the car hood—despite being visibly pregnant at the time— and searched by the cop simply for the Juggalo-related stickers on my car. The officer asked me if I knew why he pulled me over. I said “No” and he said it was because I’m a gang member. I laughed at hearing this and he said, “It's not funny and if you don't take those off the window, the next time you will go to jail” and he let me go. Soon after I experienced pain and hemorrhaging and then had to go to the ER and found out that my baby wasn't going to make it. I tried to pursue the case further but they told me that I had no evidence that the cop was the reason I miscarried and that if I pushed it I would lose because I was gang member.
I was at the hospital with my daughter in September 2014 due to my now-ex abusing her when the cop doing the report walked in. He asked what gang i was in. I asked him what he was talking about. He said that my tattoo (referring to the Hatchetman) represented a nationwide gang. I explained to him that it was simply as symbol used by people that like a group called ICP. He said “Yes, that’s the gang.” I told him “No, it’s not a gang, it’s a rap group that actually helps people through their music and in the world.” He said “Well, I’m putting in the report that you were asked about your tattoo and lied, and refused to give more information about the gang.” I attempted to get a copy of the report so i could press charges against my now ex and was told they couldn't find it.
During the early spring of 2012 I was harassed for being a Juggalo. I was active duty in the Mississippi National Guard training soldiers for deployment overseas. I was lucky enough to live near the training center so I was able to be home with my family. One Saturday morning at the end of February I was driving home after going to pick some things from the grocery store. I had my three children in the car with me. As I pulled up to a red light I saw a local police vehicle in the opposing lane getting ready to make a right turn. Just as the vehicle started to turn my signal light turned green and I turned down the intersection.
I had not even gone one hundred feet when I looked back in my rear view mirror and saw the same officer who just left the intersection pulling up behind me with his lights flashing and siren going. I pulled over, rolled down my window and got out my insurance and driver’s license. Now at this time I was wearing the sweat suit we are given in the Army in basic training for cold weather. When the officer walked up to the driver window he had already drawn his weapon and had it pointed to my face. I had my hands upon the steering wheel at this time and asked him not to point the weapon at me because my children were in the vehicle with me. Having lived in this town for over 10 years I knew a lot of the local officers on a social basis and because several of them were either in my National Guard unit or had family members in my unit. The officer in question was new to the police force and to the town as well. He told me to get out of the car and I did as instructed (he still had the weapon pointed at me) and he preceded to search me. I was not even told why I was pulled over yet. The officer pulled my sweat pants down below my buttocks and told me to step to the rear of my vehicle.
I was then handcuffed and made to sit on the ground. The officer then told me I was pulled over because I was speeding (not true), had a broken tail light (also not true) and I was resisting arrest ( I was not even informed I was under arrest). He asked me where I had stolen the vehicle I was driving. The vehicle was a 1999 Dodge Durango I had purchased with my enlistment bonus. I had a Hatchetman tag on my front bumper that happened to match the Hatchetman tattoo on my left arm. Now he did all of this in full view of my three children, who were between the ages of five and two. I was asked what my "rank" was in the Juggalo gang, to which I responded there was no such thing. He then lunged toward me in an aggressive manner saying I was going to jail and my kids were going to a foster home because I was "a gang member".
Now by this time his backup had arrived, and it was someone who actually knew me. The second officer walked up and saw me sitting on the ground and asked the first officer what was going on. The first officer began telling the second the same lies he had told me, to which the second officer responded "You’re joking, right? I know this guy. He is in my son’s unit." The second officer helped me to stand up and asked me about my clothes and I told him about the search and being accused of being in a gang and stealing a vehicle. The second officer then asked the first why I was pulled over and the first responded that it was because he saw the Hatchetman tag on the front of my vehicle. The second officer asked if I resisted arrest and I said no and I told him I did everything I was asked or told to do with a gun to my face. By now two more patrol cars had shown up on scene and were asking what was going on. One of the new officers also knew me and knew that I had two Juggalo tattoos—I have a Hatchetman on my left arm and a custom design on my back. I also have a wicked jester tattoo on my chest, which is in no way associated with being a Juggalo. Now the second officer on the scene asked me about my tattoos and I showed them my tattoos. He asked me if I would mind them photographing them to add to their gang book and told them that I would comply. I told them I would have stopped to remove my shirt so they could see them because none of my tattoos were in a place where they would be in open view if I were to wear a Class "B" uniform according to Army regulations. The officer then said I could remove my sweatshirt. All of my tattoos were photographed and my information was logged in as being a suspected gang member.
Because of this action I also ended up in trouble with the command of my National Guard Unit and with the unit I was working under at the training center. I spent the next two months being investigated by the Army Criminal Investigation Division and was suspended from duty for two weeks. I was reduced in rank from specialist to Private First Class and was discharged from active duty to regular drill status four months early. Because my mother-in-law was also active duty at the same training station she was also questioned and investigated because of this incident.
You know that scene in “Straight Outta Compton” when police surround NWA and slap their food out of their hands? That same situation has happened to my brothers and I. When we asked why we were being harassed, they pointed at my Hatchetman shirt and said "You're a gang member." To this day if I am stopped by the cops and they run my name, it comes up Code George (gang member). When I got arrested as a minor and went to juvenile prison they put me in the gang section because of my Hatchetman tattoo. Countless times I have been stopped by the police just so they could take a picture of me. No other reason besides the ICP shirt I was wearing. I even got a parole violation for wearing an ICP shirt – how ridiculous is that? I have been told to leave the mall because of a Hatchetman necklace and to this day, ICP apparel is banned from the Tacoma Mall in Washington state; they will straight up send security to kick you out of the mall if you’re wearing an ICP shirt. You can buy the shirt from there but you can't wear it there. I have an aunt who hates me now because she believes I'm a gang member. She tells the rest of the family how we are all gang members because we listen to ICP. It doesn't matter how much I tell her it’s just music, she responds with "That's not what the FBI says." I refuse to let it get me down but still its just nonsense and needs to be fixed. The world has made a huge error in judgment when it comes to Juggalos; it’s just prejudice hating somebody for one thing about them something they can't change about themselves.
This is a pamphlet being distributed in Skagit County, Washington. People in our community and cops treat and look at us as criminals for being Juggalos. Gangs in our community now see us as a rival and try beefing with us.
Stephen Barton and Jayme Coleman
Mt. Vernon, WA
I was sitting at the Orange Park Mall with a few friends and we were eating and shopping and just hanging out and the cops on duty kicked us out for wearing our Hatchetman stuff and we can't go anywhere without being kicked out of places. Even at the Anybody Killa show a couple of months ago down here, we were waiting to meet him and the cops didn't like us and we were being quiet and not causing any trouble and they told us to leave or they were gonna arrest us for doing nothing. I'm tired of all of this discrimination.
Salt Lake City, UT
One day I went with my girlfriend down to donate plasma at CSL Plasma in Salt Lake City, Utah. I have a tattoo of a girl spray painting a Hatchetman on a brick wall on the inside of my forearm and I also have a Dark Lotus tattoo on my wrist. I asked what I needed to donate and the lady told me I.D., Social Security card and proof of Address. I said OK and gave her all of it and she gave me a book to read after they checked my veins in my arms. So I read the book it was just the rules and concerns and how if you have certain diseases ( HIV, HEP. A B C,etc.) you can't donate. After waiting three hours or so she called my name and started to go through information and the whole signing in and payments. She took some blood to see how everything in my blood was ok for donating and it was, she said it was almost perfect for donating. Then it got down to the tattoos and piercing part (location of them and what they are) and she put in I had my eyebrow pierced my nose and my lip and she asked me to turn over my arm so she could my other tattoo on my forearm on my left arm so I did and she looked at it and asked " Is that a Hatchetman?" I replied, "Yes it is, why?" She then informed me that they couldn’t allow me to donate because Juggalos are on the Salt Lake metro gang list. I asked her what difference does that make for donating plasma that saves people lives everyday. She said it doesn’t and that she knew it was ridiculous but she was unable to let me donate.
My 14 year old son goes to Miamisburg High Dchool near Dayton, Ohio. He has his hair braided and as he walked into his math class there was a group of teachers standing near the door in the hall, His math teacher was among them. That teacher asked my son if he was a Juggalo. My son said “No, but my parents are.” After he said this, the teachers began to laugh . My son made his way into the classroom with the one teacher behind him. The teacher then asked my son, loudly, with 30 other 9th grade kids listening and laughing, “How old are you? My son answered “14.” The math teacher then laughed again and said “Maybe your parents went to a ICP concert 14 years ago. Do you know what happens at those concerts?” and began laughing again, insinuating that he was conceived at a show. The whole time this exchange was going on, his classmates were laughing. My son was very embarrassed but also angry. When my son came home and told me, I called the teacher and he told me that it didn't happen and my son was lying. I contacted the principal of the school, who confirmed my sons’ story and made 100 excuses for the teacher’s behavior. They put my son in a different math class that day and now they find any reason possible to punish him. One week after that incident, my son was suspended for saying “glock” outside the school. The discrimination has not stopped. Even our children are treated like gang members.
I have a Hatchetman tattoo on my upper arm and because of that I was unable to enlist in the military, which was something I’ve always wanted to do.
Las Vegas, NV
I put a Hatchetgirl sticker on the back of my car a few years back. I would get pulled over 3-5 times a month for barely speeding or the officer mistakenly thinking I wasn't wearing a seatbelt. After three months I took the sticker off... and I haven't been pulled over since.
I'm a preschool teacher and have a Hatchetman tattoo on my leg. I had a parent tell me that because I belonged to a gang she didn't feel her child would learn anything positive from me and had her child pulled from our HeadStart program. But I had a few Juggalo parents in my class and they were the most involved and outspoken and stood up for me when other parents tried talking down on me. I'm one hell of a good teacher no matter what kind of music I'm down with!
I graduated with two Bachelor’s degrees (criminology and criminal justice and sociology). I am afraid to go back for my Master’s in sociology and continue my research project that looked at the Juggalo community. I'm afraid that by having wrote about my love of the music and family that it could ruin everything I've worked so hard for as a single mother that it would mess up my future and my son's. I've read why the FBI and the NGIC (National Gang Identification Center) has classified Juggalos as gang members and while they have damning evidence, they don't look into the sociology part of those cases but instead the small outer layer of people. For instance, someone could commit a crime wearing red but has a Hatchetman tattoo. Instead of being labeled a Blood gang member they are going to be labeled a Juggalo gang member because that tattoo was easier identified than a color, even if the Bloods affiliation and criminal activity came far after the love of the music. I fought hard for my education and the fact that I love the music sets me up to being labeled a gang member is downright ridiculous and unfair.
Illinois (city withheld by request)
I bought a truck in March of 2016, and after putting a Hatchetman sticker on it, I was pulled over soooo many times, for things like my 10-year old, 5 foot tall nephew supposedly being too small and too young for the front seat, my license plate light supposedly being out, and three times I was given no reason for being stopped. My license was eventually suspended for a short period and has been reissued and cleared. I was stopped by a Michigan state police officer in St. Clair County and soon after had three cop cars there like I was a criminal. I am always compliant with police when I get stopped, since it's less of a battle. But after that time I spoke to a close friend and my boyfriend about removing my sticker and they agreed it should be taken off. Since then, I have not been pulled over or followed by a police officer, I don't have proof because I didn't want to believe the sticker was why I was being pulled over, but it's stopped. My license plate light was never out, my nephew was plenty old enough and tall enough based on vehicle laws to be in the front seat, the other three times with no excuses have lead me to believe that they were doing it because of the sticker and attempting to find something to get me in trouble. I have no record. I have done everything I can to not be in any system, I've seen the struggle with my brother and sister and I never wanted to deal with it. The hardest thing in the world to me was removing my sticker and bowing down to police officers because they want to believe something ridiculous instead of getting to know someone.
I was labeled a gang member because I wear Juggalo clothing and have Juggalo friends – plain and simple. That’s the exact answer I was given when I asked my probation officer, the judge, and cops why I was being called a gang member. I was a medical marijuana provider for my dad and many of our family and friends. I came home from work and got out of my truck and six cop cars surrounded my vehicle, pulled out their guns and ordered me to the ground. I got down and was dog piled in the gravel driveway. They searched my house found a half pound of medical marijuana, seized it and told me if I fought it I would be thrown in federal prison and my fiancé at the time would be joining me. I’m now out of prison but I can no longer legally wear or possess anything with a Hatchetman or Insane Clown Posse or it's back to prison I go. I currently have less then a year to go on felony probation and I am forever in the gang database for doing absolutely nothing related to gang activity—just wearing certain clothes and hanging out with my friends.
I had gone into my yearly review with high hopes. I had my review with my supervisor's supervisor, because mine had been on maternity leave, then decided not to return. He went through the review as normal, and went on to finish the review by saying that for a while he was wondering what the symbol was on someone's car was. He didn't know whose it was; he thought it was a different person's car, and then he had found out during a training session that it was a Hatchetman, because it had been recently added to the gang symbol directory in a nearby city to where I lived. He then proceeded to tell me that he felt that it was symbolizing gang activity and he didn't want my vehicle seen from the street and that I needed to remove it, or park my car out of view, so I always would have to park my car farthest away, and with the Hatchetman facing the back so no one could see it. I always followed the dress code, but in the review he also commented on my appearance. I have a few piercings and a few small visible tattoos, and he said basically because of the way I looked and that he knew I listened to music that represented “gang activity” that I would be looked at differently in the workplace from then on. I felt that I was a very good worker and at that time I had worked for the company for several years. But after that review, I came to work every day feeling scared, looked down upon and victimized – all over a sticker on my car and listening to ICP.
Green Bay, WI
I'm 28 years old and I have been listening to ICP and the wicked sh$t since I was about 12 years old, so I myself have been a Juggalo for the better part of 16 years. Unfortunately my experiences with discrimination began long before the FBI classified Juggalos as a gang, this matter has been present in my life since day one when I put on my first t-shirt, my first chain, and my first bit of paint. I used to live in a town that was like Shangri-La on earth for ninjas, almost everyone between the ages of 12 and 25 was a Lo or a Lette. But with that being the case we all still caught heat and were himmed up by the local police on the daily. This particular town had taken it upon themselves to label us a gang and people were advised that we were dangerous. This was pretty much the opinion of anyone that came across us and it lasted well into high school even after I moved. Me and my friends would get pulled over just because of the stickers on our cars and the fact that there was more then 2 of us in the vehicle at one time, we were always told we were causing a disturbance or for being suspicious.
Now we fast forward a little bit to 2008 when I made the biggest commitment of my young life, I decided to join the United States Marine Corps. When I made the decision to join I had already branded myself with my first tattoo, a huge hatchetman on my left shoulder blade, and I was immediately grilled about what it was, why I had it, where did I get it, and this way back in "08". Ultimately I was informed by my recruiter that in order to be cleared to join I needed a waiver signed by the Marine Corps stating that I was okay. I had pictures and everything taken and it was all put into a nice thick package that was cataloged with my name and it followed me through all 8 years I was in. Once 2011 rolled around and the FBI put out their little list, here came the powerpoints from Headquarters Marine Corps "explaining all about Juggalos and what they represented" ( all bullsh$t ). So sure enough, shortly after, my superiors dug out my little file and I was immediately questioned on numerous occasions. I was threatened with losing rank (demotion), NJP ( non judicial punishment ), and even discharge from the Marine Corps. I was even pulled over by military police on base because of my hatchetman stickers on my car and questioned for 30 min about them, then to be told that they must be removed from my vehicle ( kind of like cops do when your tint is too dark). But even after all of this BS there was nothing they could do because of the waiver I was given before I joined.
I love my country and I believe I served it well both here in the states and in combat while over in Afghanistan and couldn't believe all of this was because of some ink on skin or some words on paper about a music subculture. It was all over a band, a music genre, a bunch of people who found away to fit into a world they felt isolated from. Every genre of music has its own subculture, look at punk music, or death metal, I mean c'mon but the Juggalos are the only ones catching slack for a few bad apples. Im proud to be a Juggalo, im proud to wear my ink and rock my chain, the love I've gotten from Juggalos, some I had never even met they just said whats up to me on a bad day just because of a chain around my neck and it got me through to the next. Thats what I love, thats what makes me proud, thats what keeps me around, then, now, and forever. Its all love Family