W hat better field trip for MurderMotels than the Dark Carnival. This is our second year at the Gathering of the Juggalos. What’s crazy about this festival isn’t the open drug commerce, the abundance of free-flopping titties, the sparking arcs of Faygo pop showering crowd of face-painted fans. What’s crazy about this festival is that it’s located on private property at the very bottom of Illinois in a small town called Cave In Rock. And, as everyone will gleefully tell you, fuck the po-lice.
The cops don’t come in. Won’t come in. They’ll wait outside to tear apart cars looking for drugs, but once you’re in, you’re in the most lawless place in America. And that’s not even really the crazy part. The crazy part is that, for the most part, there is a maintained sense of order. Juggalos have their own system of law in that if you’re a juggalo, you’re a family. And you don’t steal from family, and you don’t fight with family, and you’re more likely to see someone gently talking a stranger through a bad trip than you are to see someone eating a face. The amount of insanity and douchebaggery that occurs here is actually less, in my experience, than tight-ship festivals where security guards won’t let you take an unopened water bottle from your campsite to the event grounds because it MIGHT be not-overpriced-liquor. Once you’ve made the annual pilgrimage to the Gathering of the Juggalos, then you have reached an oasis where you’re surrounded by “twenty thousand of your best friends” (so says the annual 20-minute-plus infomercial), and all those goddamn, pretentious douchebags who love trolling Internet forums to say ICP sucks are so far away, living their stupid, boring lives where they can’t show anyone their butthole without getting arrested, that it’s almost like they don’t even exist. So, there’s a peace here underneath all the mayhem. (Unlike the Gathering held in Pontiac where authorities manifested chaos when they tear gassed the crowds because Juggalettes wouldn’t put their boobs away.) The Tila Tequila thing was insane and it’s in no way cool to throw your feces at anyone — but, if you think you’re gonna die by coming here, you’re probably wrong. It’s so safe, Violent J announced at today’s press conference that his 8-year-old son is old enough to go to next year’s Gathering.
And this is how we fell in love with this place, when we came last year full of Michigan-pride, fearing a Cannibal Holocaust but stumbling into Man Bites Dog. Juggalos are awesome and this festival — with it’s lack of rules and diverse rap/rock/metal/funk lineup — is fun as fuck. But just as we couldn’t convince our Sonic Youth-loving friends that it’s okay to be down with the clown, ICP couldn’t convince the United States of America they weren’t a threat. Last fall, the FBI decided to classify Juggalos as a gang. You can find Juggalos listed on page 23 of the 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment.
Here’s the meat of it:
“Juggalos’ disorganization and lack of structure within their groups, coupled with their transient nature, makes it difficult to classify them and identify their members and migration patterns. many criminal Juggalo sub- sets are comprised of transient or homeless individuals, according to law enforcement reporting. most Juggalo criminal groups are not motivated to migrate based upon traditional needs of a gang. however, law enforce- ment reporting suggests that Juggalo criminal activ- ity has increased over the past several years and has expanded to several other states. transient, criminal Juggalo groups pose a threat to communities due to the potential for violence, drug use/sales, and their general destructive and violent nature.”
So, here we are, in Cave In Rock. ICP is holding a seminar and they’re ready to take on these allegations. “Since this thing happened,” Violent J says, “we’ve been hearing about Juggalos who are maybe on probation or parole.” According to J, he’s been hearing stories about Juggalos being sent back to jail on a Violation of Probation for being affiliated with a gang because they’re reppin’ hatchets.
In New York, J saw a Wanted poster for a guy whose gang affiliation was listed as “Insane Clown Posse.” “The government is punishing us for being Juggalos,” J announces, to a crowd that immediately starts booing and screaming.
Back in 1990, J says, when NWA came out with “Fuck the Police,” they received a letter that said, ‘watch it.’ “Here we are in 2012, we’ll take a letter any fuckin’ day compared to what they did to us,” J says. “They officially named juggalos a gang. Let’s talk about a ninja who 15 years ago got a hatchet man tattoo on his arm. Now, 15 years later, he’s riding with his family and three little kids. He sells real estate. He rolls by a stop sign, they pull him over. They see the hatchet tattoo, so they file that ninja in the gang list. Feel what I’m saying here? Do you understand the gravity of what I’m saying here?”
This, he says, is “straight real shit.” He gives a few more examples of very ordinary people who simply happen to be Juggalos who might now be accused of being a part of a gang. Shaggy 2 Dope points out that other gangs might fuck with Juggalos. Furthermore, Psychopathic merchandise is now “gang apparel,” meaning they’re losing business in stores that have carried their products for years. Psychopathic employees who have made careers out of working for the label now work for a gang. Juggalos may find difficulty when seeking employment if they have a Juggalo tattoo. Juggalos don’t feel safe putting bumper stickers on their cars anymore. Now, when ICP plays a concert, it’s a gang rally. “To even get insurance on the building, the cost is through the roof,” J says, meaning it makes it harder for them to find venues to play.
“This is the the government’s way of trying to eliminate Psychopathic and the Juggalos,” J says. “It hasn’t even been a year. Imagine five years from now.”
What it comes down to, J says, is people being punished for the music they listen to, something he says has never happened before in the history of music. “The only reason this isn’t all over the news is because it happened to us,” he says, and compares what would happen if this had happened to Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters. It comes down to the logic of not being able to say ALL of anything is one thing, pointing out it would be irrational to say Conway Twitty has a couple of fans who are pedophiles, so all of the millions who purchase his products touch kids. And here: this ninja is right.
J addresses the fear that the Gathering might get raided because this isn’t a music festival to the government — it’s a gang rally. SERIOUSLY, HOW INCREDIBLE WOULD THAT BE?!
So, here’s the announcement: ICP is officially suing the FBI. Publicly. They don’t care how much money it costs. They’ve got a juggalo lawyer. They will defend and sue on behalf of every Juggalo who has been discriminated against for being a juggalo. They’ve got a tent set up where juggalos can address their complaints with Psychopathic’s legal team, and a website (juggalosfightback.com) where they can file complaints online. Crammed into the Seminar Tent of the Gathering, the crowd errupts into the chant: “FAM-I-LY! FAM-I-LY! FAM-I-LY!”
“We’re gonna lay the law down on the FBI,” the lawyer assures.
And Violent J closes with this: “All the FBI all the way up to the President can blow us.”
So as ICP would say, open your mouth, FBI, because here comes their wang.
Photos by Mary Sjaarda.
[We're gonna go get some statements from Juggalos who are getting involved in the lawsuit so stay tuned!!]