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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Juggalos Win Federal Appeal

Not a gang, just family.
The good news from Cincinnati is that Juggalos are not gang members. Whew; now I can get a good night sleep.

Juggalos are followers of the Farmington Hills-originated rap duo, Insane Clown Posse. Think: hard-core, off-color drug-addled rap version of Jimmy Buffet's "parrotheads".

The band and its followers are making headlines again from a lawsuit that is grinding along in the federal court system. A small group of Juggalos appealed the dismissal of their federal civil rights lawsuit and the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal and remanded the case back to Detroit for further proceedings.

The beef arose in 2011 when a much-publicized FBI report characterized Juggalos as a loosely-organized hybrid gang; whatever that means. The Sixth Circuit's opinion states that, "Juggalos are easily spotted because they display, on person or property, insignia representative of the band."  [Yes, in fact, they do  r-e-p-r-e-s-e-n-t, and the "insignia" most commonly displayed is a crazy man running with a hatchet, pictured above.]

The rap group's devotees cried foul in the wake of the FBI report, claiming their civil liberties were impinged through such heavy-handed law enforcement tactics. Juggalos are not a gang, they proclaim, just one big happy sloppy family.

The Sixth Circuit's opinion details the specific transgressions claimed by each of the six plaintiffs, two of whom claim their ICP-themed tattoos caused them grief with the U.S. Army because of their perceived association with a gang on the "government gang list."  Accordingly, plaintiffs claim violations to their First and Fifth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution.

In reversing the federal court in Detroit, the Sixth Circuit held that Juggalos did have proper standing to sue in the federal court under the Administrative Procedure Act and the Declaratory Judgment Act. The appellate ruling, however, also directed the lower court to now consider the governments claim-based motion to dismiss the case.

So this litigation will be around for awhile. If you are a Juggalo, it certainly does not hurt to have Michigan's largest law firm, Miller Canfield, representing your interests along with the ACLU.

Nevertheless, Juggalos beware. This was merely a [small] procedural victory. For his part, the local cop on the beat will always view you a part of a crime gang.

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