The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the FBI’s decision to list the Juggalos as a gang was not a “final agency” action, meaning it was not legally binding and could not be challenged in court.
The FBI classified the Juggalos as a gang in their 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment. The report referred to them as “a loosely-organized hybrid gang” that engages in “sporadic, disorganized, individualistic” crime such as, “simple assault, personal drug use and possession, petty theft and vandalism.”
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.
In their ruling, however, the judges on the Sixth Circuit 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.”
It’s unclear if Insane Clown Posse and the Juggalos will appeal the ruling. If they do, it’s possible the case could appear before the Supreme Court. If not, the gang designation will likely remain in tact.
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 fuck. 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.”