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Insane Clown Posse Sues FBI Over 'Gang' Label
Two rappers who paint their faces to look like clowns are suing the FBI and the US Justice Department after their fans were described as a dangerous gang.
Joseph Bruce and Joseph Utsler, better known as Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope of Insane Clown Posse, claim a 2011 report by the FBI has tarnished reputations and damaged merchandise sales.
Known as the Juggalos, their fans were labelled as a "loosely organised hybrid gang" responsible for vandalism and assault.
They have lost custody of children, been sacked from jobs and denied housing as a result, according to Mr Bruce.
"Juggalos are a 'family' of people who love and help one another, enjoy one another's company, and bond over the music and a philosophy of life," according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of Mr Bruce, Mr Utsler and four of their fans.
"Organised crime is by no means part of the Juggalo culture."
Michael Steinberg, a legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the case, said: "It is a quintessential civil liberties case challenging government abuse."
Saura Sahu, an attorney for Insane Clown Posse and the four fans, added: "What would it be like if the Department of Justice decided to brand all Deadheads (fans of American rock band The Grateful Dead) not just as criminals but as criminal gang members because some of them used or even sold drugs?
"I think we would all think that's ridiculous."
Brandon Bradley, who is one of the fans named in the lawsuit, claimed he had been stopped by police and photographed because of his tattoos and jewellery, including a necklace with a man running with a hatchet - the Insane Clown Posse's distinctive symbol.
"I'm proud to wear my Juggalo tattoos since they represent the love I have toward the Juggalo family ... and the message that everyone deserves to be accepted," he said.
Another fan, Mark Parsons, claimed he was stopped by police because of the "hatchetman" logo on his bumper, while a third claimant, Scott Gandy, said he was told to remove his Juggalo tattoos during an unsuccessful attempt to join the Army.
According to papers submitted to the US District Court in Michigan, Insane Clown Posse and their fans want the 2011 classification to be declared unlawful.
They have also called for the Department of Justice to delete all "criminal intelligence information" about the Juggalos from its various databases.
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