A recruit denied entry into the Army for being a “Juggalo” is suing the Department of Justice, saying fans of the Insane Clown Posse band are not, in fact, part of a hybrid gang.
The recruit is part of a group of six Juggalos alleging harm stemming from an FBI report in 2011 which stated the self-identified fans belonged to a hybrid gang which routinely engages in violence. This means, according to the complaint, that the government is “subjecting them [Juggalos] to significant harm, including repeated police harassment and denial of employment,” Army Times reports.
Two of the Juggalos have had interactions with the Army. One Juggalo, Scott Gandy, was denied entrance in 2012, and proceeded to spend $800 dollars to change the offending tattoos. The Army still rejected Gandy’s application. According to Kelli Bland, chief of public affairs for Army Recruiting Command, the Army does not keep a list of gangs around, even if it does ban gang members from joining the service.
The other Juggalo, Sgt. Robert Hellin, claims that because he has tattoos indicating his status as a fan of the Insane Clown Posse, he could face severe disciplinary action or discharge from the military at any moment under Army Regulation 670-1. Hellin is based out of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.
In 2014, the suit was dismissed, only to be quickly appealed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan. The most recent hearing occurred June 18. Lawyers argued the federal government is violating free speech rights of the Insane Clown Posse and its fans.
“This is not the end — we’ll keep fighting to clear the Juggalo family name,” said Joseph Bruce (aka Violent J), a member of ICP, in an ACLU statement. “There has never been—and will never be—a music fan base quite like Juggalos, and while it is easy to fear what one does not understand, discrimination and bigotry against any group of people is just plain wrong and un-American.”
Federal government estimates place the number of Juggalos in the United States at approximately one million.