Soldiers tell their story in FBI Juggalo Gang Lawsuit
Kevin Lilley recently brought to light some of the damaging effects of the FBI Juggalo Gang Lawsuit. The hardships of a group of soldiers have been told to the public. Hopefully, with these brave young soldiers and their testimonies, some results can come out of this appeal.
One active-duty soldier and one man who believes he was wrongfully denied entry into the Army are among six “Juggalos” who have taken the Justice Department to court, claiming they and other supporters of the rap duo Insane Clown Posse have been illegally harmed by an FBI report identifying the Juggalos as a “hybrid gang.”
A federal judge in Detroit dismissed the case in 2014, but lawyers for the plaintiffs, in a suit backed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, appealed the ruling. Oral arguments were made June 18 in a federal appeals court in Cincinnati, which is considering the case.
At issue: Whether the gang designation in a 2011 report — “National Gang Threat Assessment: Emerging Trends” — unfairly categorizes the rappers’ fan base as a criminal element. By using the “hybrid gang” label, the government is illegally “subjecting them to significant harm, including repeated police harassment and denial of employment,” according to the complaint.
Sgt. Robert Hellin bravely steps up to the plate and claims in court filings that being a Juggalo, “places him in imminent danger of suffering discipline or an involuntary discharge from the Army.”
Hellin serves with 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, according to Army Human Resources Command. He and the other five plaintiffs, which include the ICP‘s “Violent J” and “Shaggy 2 Dope” , were not made available by the ACLU of Michigan for interviews according to Armytimes.com
Another plaintiff, Scott Gandy, claims he attempted to enlist in the Army in 2012 but
was told he could not because of his ICP-related ink. Gandy spent more than $800 to have the tattoos altered, according to case information posted on the ACLU of Michigan’s website, but was denied enlistment anyway.
The Army does not have a specific Juggalo-related tattoo policy for its potential recruits, said Kelli Bland, chief of public affairs for Army Recruiting Command. Army regulations ban members of gangs or extremist groups from joining, Bland said, but the service “does not maintain a list of criminal gangs for use by accession agencies,” and the evaluation of any group’s gang or extremist status is part of the review process for each individual applicant.
For soldiers like Hellin already in service, Army Regulation 670-1, which governs tattoos and other appearance standards, doesn’t mention gangs, but does ban tattoos “affiliated with, depicting, or symbolizing extremist philosophies, organizations, or activities,” including groups that “advocate violence or other unlawful means of depriving individual rights under the U.S. Constitution.”
Four states considered the Juggalos a gang as of 2011, according to the threat assessment. A 2013 report by the National Gang Intelligence Center, the same group behind the 2011 effort, lists hundreds of gangs but does not mention the Juggalos, nor the notion of “hybrid gangs,” defined in 2011 as “non-traditional gangs with multiple affiliations.”
Because of the designation, the complaint states, “state and local police routinely stop, detain, interrogate, photograph and document people like Plaintiffs, who do not have any connections to gangs, because they have exercised their First Amendment rights to express their identity as Juggalos by displaying Juggalo symbols. Other Juggalos, including plaintiff Scott Gandy, have been denied consideration for employment because of the gang designation.”
If you want to hear what took place in court earlier this month, head over HERE