The FBI has released the files of its 14-month investigation into the fans of the rap group Insane Clown Posse. The group of fans, known as Juggalos, were formally classified as a gang by the FBI in October 2011.
The investigation conducted by the FBI's Salt Lake City branch sought to uncover the alleged gang's "illegal activities," which the organization said "may constitute a pattern of racketeering activity ... and which may support prosecutions for federal violations."
The FBI documents, which were released last week and dated March 21, 2011, state that Juggalos have "their own hand signs, slang, an anthem, and a pledge of allegiance to the ICP and their ideas."
"The fan base is known to number in the thousands and they follow the ICP in almost a religious manner," the file states. "This cult-like following is referred to as 'The Dark Carnival.'"
The investigation was closed in May of 2012.
But despite the investigation's lofty goals, the documents -- which were made available through a Freedom of Information Act request by the civil liberties technology company OpenWatch -- arguably fall short of proving that the Juggalos are an organized gang.
For example, in describing The Gathering of the Juggalos, an annual summer festival held in Illinois, the organization cites an FBI memo from 2008 that notes that out of about 6,000 people, "22 people were arrested on drug related charges, 350-400 traffic violations [were] issued, and one death was linked to heat exhaustion."
The FBI file also notes that in Sheboygan, Wis., Juggalos "are considered a structured gang" consisting of "at least eight members and six associates, ages ranging from fourteen to twenty-one." In addition, the document states Sheboygan Juggalos have been "linked to crimes such as graffiti, possession of narcotics and theft ... and have been equated with the 'dead heads' of the Grateful Dead."
As Wired writes:
On May 4, 2012, the Salt Lake City division “recommended the captioned cases be closed.” Next to “outlaw motorcycle gangs” “Surenos Gang Sets” and “Nortenos Blood Gang Sets”: “Juggalos.”
Most of the FBI documents are made up of heavily redacted emails sent by one intelligence agent, as well as news reports on individual crimes committed by people identified as Juggalos.
Some news reports, such as one from the Annandale Patch, point out that being a Juggalo does not mean being a criminal.
What prompted the FBI to label Juggalos as a gang remains unclear, but MuckRock points out that the document does include "Accomplishment Reports" that detail the arrests of two people by an FBI task force.
It's possible, though, that the FBI withheld some crucial information. In its cover letter for the Juggalo files, it says that 180 pages were reviewed; however, only 117 pages were released.
Being classified as a gang is no joke. A growing number of states across the country have laws that allow for harsher sentences for crimes committed by gang members, even for misdemeanors in some cases.
The Insane Clown Posse has publicly denounced violence in the past, saying its message is actually about tolerance.
The rap duo is suing the FBI for withholding information about why it put the group on the National Gang Threat Assessment list in 2011, and it has even created a website, Juggalos Fight Back, where any fan who has been mistreated by a government agent can receive legal counsel at no cost.
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