Juggalos, the clown-loving, face-painting, tattooed, Faygo-spraying fans of Detroit’s Insane Clown Posse are famous for their ridiculous and criminal behavior. Maybe you’ve read one of the reports of murder, drug sales, or armed robbery perpetrated by people with “hatchet man” tattoos – the image of an ax-wielding man being the logo of ICP’s label, Psychopathic Records. Or perhaps you’ve just seen them mocked on Saturday Night Live, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, or Workaholics.
Yet Juggalos claim they are mostly nonviolent and the crimes their brethren commit are not in the name of the band – a claim that held some validity until a few Juggalos chose to honor the rap-rock group with an offering of human flesh. Jonathan Schrap, 24, is already emblazoned with ICP tattoos and recently announced his summer plans by changing his Facebook profile photo to a cartoon with the words, “Fuck off for a week! I’m at the Gathering Of The Juggalos.” (Referring to their annual festival in the Midwest, of course, where Juggalos spend five days listening to horror-core, wrestling and attending “artist seminars.”) Exhausting traditional routes of fandom, Schrap honored the band and remembered a fallen Juggalo by first drinking the blood of 27-year-old Shelby Neuens, then amputating her pinky finger with a machete.
On August 27th, Schrap, Neuens, alongside friends Nick Laabs and Preston “Blood Ruckus” Hyde, gathered at Schrap’s home in suburban Green Bay, Wisconsin to remember a friend and fellow Juggalo who died a year earlier. According to a local CBS report citing Brown County jail records, the friends were staging a “ritualistic memorial.” Offering up her own blood, Schrap cut Neuens along her right forearm with a machete, collecting the blood in a shot glass to drink. She was described as “bleeding profusely,” but the inch-long laceration did not stop Neuens from offering her pinky finger as a sacrifice after the group decided the initial blood drinking was not enough. It took Schrap two swipes with his machete slice the pinky “clean off… All the way to the palm.” Laabs and Hyde, the other two Juggalos present at the makeshift memorial, attempted to stop her bleeding with a car lighter and then a blow torch, while Schrap stashed the severed pinky in the freezer commenting that he would “cook it and eat it later.”
At the insistence of her boyfriend and his mother, both not present at the time of injury, Neuens went to the Saint Mary’s Hospital emergency room, where staff told the police they believed the patient had been part of a cult initiation. Neuens claimed the amateur cauterization of her wound was more painful than the amputation, but said she was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident.
Schrap was charged on August 28th with second-degree reckless injury, mayhem, and false imprisonment – all felony offenses. This was not his first arrest, nor was it Hyde’s, who was seen running from his home when he spotted the police. (His arrest on September 6th was listed as a probation violation.)
The incident is undoubtedly extreme, but not really surprising behavior for Juggalos – after all, one was said to have cut off his own nipple at a Gathering a few years ago. So the hospital officials who labeled the recent incident a cult initiation were not far off – since the crew was established in the 1990s, they’ve faced extreme fetishization by their fans. The ICP duo, Joe “Violent J” Bruce and Joseph “Shaggy 2 Dope” Utsler, both Evangelical Christians rapping about murder in the name of God. While Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope believe their fans are like a family, the FBI labeled the Juggalos a “loosely organized hybrid gang”in 2011 because of how they engage in criminal activity and violence.
According to author Steve Miller’s Juggalo: Insane Clown Posse and the World They Created, fans tend to be poor, drug addled, and white. Juggalos credit their long rap sheets to police targeting Insane Clown Posse fans and not to the actual crimes themselves, though there’s little leeway when charged with stabbing a 14-year-old in the stomach in Seattle or attacking a cyclist with a pair of “dulled meat cleavers” in Las Vegas. According to the FBI report, the crimes of the group are “assault, robbery, theft, drug possession/sales, vandalism, and to a lesser extent murder.”
But despite the long list of accusations by the FBI, Juggalos are unwilling to leave the group behind. After the 2011 gang classification, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope established the website Juggalos Fight Back for their fans who endured “any negative consequence with a governmental representative” to gain access to the Insane Clown Posse legal team at no cost. The information collected through the website was also used in the group’s lawsuit against the FBI, claiming that being a fan does not make someone a gang member. Their lawsuit was dismissed, but the group won the right to appeal the ruling in 2015.
So ICP continues to be unrelenting, even after this latest incident – on which they still haven’t commented. In order to clear the name of Juggalos across the country, Insane Clown Posse has planned a march on Washington D.C. for the weekend of September 17th, 2017. Depending on Schrap’s legal defense, he may have to opportunity to march with his fellow fans next year. But for now, he’ll await a preliminary hearing on September 21st to determine the punishment for his sacrifice.