By now you know whose side you’re on.
|The court's spellcheck is apparently not working|
Appellate arguments are scheduled in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. Each side gets 15 minutes. It’s one more legal stop in the case of the Juggalos vs. the Feds, a case that was filed in January 2014.
A federal judge in June 2014 ruled that the plaintiffs - ICP and four of its fans - did not prove harm in their arguments in the original case. They alleged the report led to targeting by police for wearing hatchetman or ICP-related jewelry, clothing and tattoos.
U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland said the U.S. Justice Department is not responsible for how authorities use the bi-annual national report on gangs.
The report "does not recommend any particular course of action for local law enforcement to follow, and instead operates as a descriptive, rather than prescriptive, assessment of nationwide gang trends," Cleland said in his ruling.
The FBI alleged in its 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment that Juggalos “exhibit gang-like behavior and engage in criminal activity and violence.”
The inclusion of Juggalos in the report was based in large part on news clippings sent to the FBI by various, mostly small town law enforcement agencies responding to an email from bureau employee.
Read how it went down in this High Times piece.
The gang designation led to articles in police publications such as this one titled, “Three things cops need to know about Juggalos.”
From the July 2014 article at PoliceOne.com: Their philosophy and dress is derived from the Insane Clown Posse and Psychopathic records “Dark Carnival” from a set of 6 albums. Law enforcement professionals should be aware that this group routinely attracts members who come from difficult lives filled with trauma, parental neglect and, in many cases, serious mental disorders.
This combination makes them easily manipulated by their leadership of radical organizations such as the Juggalos who have for the past several decades used these groups as recruiting centers.
Dale Yeager of Seraph — a Department of Justice Criminal Behavior Analyst on the Juggalos — said, “As various extreme environmental, animal rights and anti-globalization groups become emboldened by increased funding from NGOs and leftist political action committees, the use of youth movements such as Juggalos for recruitment of members will increase.
In a legal brief filed in February on behalf of ICP, lawyers allege that the Department of Justice “maintains a digital warehouse containing Juggalo data that – by Congressional design – plays a leading role in law enforcement’s identification of gang members. The warehouse includes an encyclopedia of gang images and a database of materials cataloging distinctive First Amendment-protected Juggalo symbols such as the hatchetman logo and other ICP-related symbols and other information about these music fans. “
It goes on:
“Within these materials, the DOJ does not provide any way for law enforcement to distinguish the vast majority of law-abiding Juggalos from the purported “subsets” of gang members. Now, the DOJ suggests only a circular definition that the good Juggalos are the ones who don’t commit gang-related crimes.”
Read the plaintiff’s brief here.
The Department of Justice hammers at what it claims is a failure to prove injury on the part of ICP and the four Juggalos, The DOJ insists that the gang report does not designate Juggalos as a gang. Instead, “the Report provides information on trends in gang activity, as reported to [the gang intelligence center] by other law enforcement entities. “
Read the government’s brief here.
Some say it comes down to the way the law is set up. The Feds can declare any group a gang. There is no established way to directly challenge such a designation. That leaves something blandly called the Administrative Procedures Act, which must be named so in order to get us to fall asleep before we can do anything.
But ICP is using that to challenge the FBI. And the Feds claim that the – wait for it – Administrative Procedures Act requires some sort of conclusion. That is, it has to be etched in stone that the Juggalos are forever a gang. And the FBI report didn’t do that for anyone, not the Crips, not the Bloods, not the Juggalos, insists the DOJ. It makes it a legal chore to dispute when the FBI says you’re a banger.
“Even if you have the money, the law is set up to make it difficult to undo either a state or a federal authority calling your group a gang,” says Alex Alonso, who runs the website streetgangs.com and has testified over 50 times in gang-related cases.