Fans of the rap-metal group Insane Clown Posse have lost their appeal to have an FBI report scrubbed of language referring to them as a gang.
The groups fans, known as Juggalos, said in court that it was not lawful for a 2011 report given to Congress to describe Juggalos as a "loosely organized hybrid gang." The report also described Juggalos as engaging in "sporadic, disorganized, individualistic" crime such as, "simple assault, personal drug use and possession, petty theft and vandalism."
The fans filed a lawsuit in Detroit, blaming the report for harassment by police.
In 2014, ICP's Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, as well as several Juggalos and the ACLU, filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice and the FBI. The lawsuit argued that "organized crime is by no means part of the Juggalo culture," yet the FBI's gang designation had caused unnecessary strife for many fans. One plaintiff said the FBI's gang designation had led to unfair treatment by the police, another was denied the chance to enlist in the Army and a third, an Army corporal who'd served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Korea, was "in imminent danger of suffering discipline or an involuntary discharge" because of his ICP tattoos.
However, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that the report carries no direct legal consequences. The court also says the Justice Department isn't responsible for how other police agencies use information in the annual report.
In fact, the court said that the National Gang Threat Assessment was only an annual report presented to Congress and "no government officials are required to consider or abide by the gang designation." They added: "The various reputational and personal harms suffered by Appellants in the present case may be the practical consequences of the Juggalo gang designation, but they are not a direct or appreciable legal consequence of the Juggalo gang designation."
The American Civil Liberties Union says the court "let the FBI off the hook." Juggalos aren't mentioned in subsequent gang reports.
In September, Insane Clown Posse led their fans in a Juggalo March on Washington to protest the FBI's gang designation. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Violent J said of the march, "What would anybody do? How would anybody fight the gang label? Obviously, the FBI don't give a f—. They're not gonna cave in as they see it. All we can do is hopefully reach the people of the country. How are we gonna legally, peacefully, reach these people? The way it's always been, is you do a March on Washington that makes as much noise as you can."