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DoJ to Federal Judge: Dismiss Insane Clown Posse's Lawsuit

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From left, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope filed the lawsuit in January. From left, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope filed the lawsuit in January. Carlos Osorio/AP

The Justice Department Monday asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit from rap duo Insane Clown Posse, which asked for the removal of "criminal intelligence information" about the group's fans.

The Associated Press reports that Justice is claiming that the rappers and their fanbase -- self-proclaimed "Juggalos" -- "have no standing to sue." The rappers have said an FBI report, which classifies the Juggalos as a gang, is causing the group to lose fans and that it "scared people away from attending concerts and from affiliating together." Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope (née Joseph Bruce and Joseph Utsler) and fans from four states are the plaintiffs in the suit, announced in the fall and filed in January. The fans claim that they've been subjected to police harassment and unconstitutional searches because of their affinity for the Detroit-area duo.

The lawsuit stems from a 2011 FBI report. In “National Gang Threat Assessment: Emerging Trends,” the FBI placed Juggalos next to organized crime groups and street gangs like the Miami-based Zoe Pound Haitian street gang and the infamous Latin Kings. The report called the Juggalos "a loosely-organized hybrid gang" and cited crimes committed by fans of ICP. It also warned of an expansion of Juggalo criminal culture.

Most crimes committed by Juggalos are sporadic, disorganized, individualistic, and often involve simple assault, personal drug use and possession, petty theft, and vandalism. However, open source reporting suggests that a small number of Juggalos are forming more organized subsets and engaging in more gang-like criminal activity, such as felony assaults, thefts, robberies, and drug sales. Social networking websites are a popular conveyance for Juggalo sub-culture to communicate and expand.

Heavily influenced by earlier "Horrorcore" groups like Flatlinerz and Gravediggaz, ICP's music is over-the-top in its violent circus-like imagery. Juggalo culture is widespread, with Juggalos using their own slang, idioms and style of dress. There was, for a time, an online dating site for fans of the group, Juggalove.com, for Juggalos and Juggalettes to find the perfect match. Juggalos often sport ICP tattoos, paint their faces like clowns and come together for the annual Gathering of the Juggalos. The gathering is an annual outdoor music festival that started in 1999. In recent years, mainstream journalists have have exposed the Gathering to a wider audience. ICP's label, Psychopathic Records, sports a logo called "Hatchetman" that fans get tattooed on themselves.

A Detroit federal judge will hold a hearing this week on whether to dismiss the case or not.

Prior to joining Government Executive’s staff, Ross Gianfortune worked at The Washington Post, The Gazette Newspapers, WXRT Radio and The Columbia Missourian. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from University of Missouri and a master's in communications from the American University.

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