DETROIT (CN) - Members of the Insane Clown Posse and their fans sued the FBI Wednesday, challenging "the federal government's unwarranted and unlawful decision to designate a musical band's supporters as a criminal gang, thereby subjecting them to significant harm, including repeated police harassment and denial of employment."
The hip-hop duo Joseph Bruce and Joseph Utsler are plaintiffs, as are four of their fans, in the federal lawsuit against the Department of Justice and FBI.
The band's fans call themselves Juggalos, as does the FBI. There is no mention in Wednesday's complaint about the federal lawsuit
that the band filed against the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act in 2012.
Lead plaintiff, Juggalo Mark Parsons, says in the 38-page lawsuit: "Among the supporters of almost any group - whether it be a band, sports team, university, political organization or religion - there will be some people who violate the law. Inevitably, some will do so while sporting the group's logos or symbols. However, it is wrong to designate the entire group of supporters as a criminal gang based on the acts of a few. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened here."
According to the complaint, the FBI in 2001 "seized on reports of independent crimes to brand Juggalos across the country as a 'loosely-organized hybrid gang" in the DOJ's 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment' ...
"This gang designation has caused real harm to ordinary Juggalos from coast to coast. Defendants widely published the designation to state and local police agencies through an online law enforcement database, as well as through reports and other means. As a result, 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. The designation has a chilling effect on Juggalos' ability to express themselves and to associate with one another."
The plaintiffs seek an injunction, declaratory judgment, and damages for violations of the First Amendment, due process under the 5th Amendment, arbitrary and capricious agency action, and violations of the Administrative Procedure Act.
The plaintiffs' lead counsel is Saura Sahu, with Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone.