When people realized the The Juggalo March on Washington D.C. scheduled for September 16 coincided with a white nationalist pro-Trump march, it attracted a lot of attention. For a nation reeling from the deadly hate march in Charlottesville, the prospect of Richard Spencer’s idiot minions clashing with clowns is equal parts tantalizing and confusing.
Coastal upper class media-types are comfortable ridiculing Insane Clown Posse fans. Juggalos have been derided by sitcoms, Saturday Night Live and smug bystanders overconfident in their understanding of magnets.
The real world persecution of Juggalos has gotten lost in the mockery.
In 2011, the FBI’s National Gang Intelligence Center labeled Juggalos as a “loosely organized hybrid gang.”
Obviously, it’s stupid to label circus-themed rap metal enthusiasts as gang members. Sadly, that stupidity has real world consequences. When they’re ground through our legal system, Juggalos receive harsher sentences and probation violations. ICP and the ACLU have spent years fighting the designation in courts, with some success.
Bryan Quinby, host of the Columbus, Ohio-based left-wing comedy podcast and radio show Street Fight Radio is traveling to D.C for the March. A former Juggalo and Nu Metal fan, Quinby says people are missing a lot of nuance about Juggalos and the March. He’s worried the reasonable and understandable gripe they have with the law is going to be lost in the shuffle.
BTRtoday (BTR): Is ICP a force for good or evil?
Bryan Quinby (BQ): Well, I was a huge fan before they even started doing The Gathering. I got out of it by the second or third gathering or something. They were two poor kids that hit it big. And certain groups of people really respond to that. They’re not perfect, that’s for sure. There’s a lot of misogyny. If you go into the older stuff, there’s some homophobia there for sure.
All in all, they’re anti-racist guys. It’s hard to explain. Some people say things that are hurtful and they don’t understand that those things are hurtful. When they made a gay joke in the ‘90s, I don’t think they understood what they were doing. They were young white dudes in their 20s in a pretty edgy scene that were just trying to be edgy. There are a lot of women in the audience and if the misogyny doesn’t bother the women who are there, I don’t know if it’s a huge deal. They’re not getting played on the radio or MTV or anything like that. You have to seek them out.
I think that the people who listen to them are people who could potentially end up enlisted by MAGA [Make America Great Again] type of people. They probably would have the potential to be very disaffected, they’re white and generally pretty poor. They generally live in pretty poor neighborhoods.
I lived in Columbus Ohio. ICP is really huge in Ohio and Michigan and a few states right around this area. And you don’t see Juggalos in gentrified neighborhoods. You don’t see them downtown. You see them in the poor neighborhoods. That’s where they live.
They have the potential to be disaffected young people but they listen to this music that’s very antiracist. I can’t imagine being racist and listening to that music and feel comfortable with it.
BTR: Are the fans mixed race?
BQ: I was in a Nu Metal scene. And I know that people don’t think this but there were a lot of black fans of Nu Metal and ICP. It’s rap music number one. A lot of these kids live in black neighborhoods. It’s hard to be racist in black neighborhoods when all your neighbors are black.
BTR: You put up an interesting playlist of their songs on Twitter. Is there anything in their music that would surprise people?
BQ: Their songs are really unsophisticated. A lot of them are morality plays. One is called “The Joker’s Wild” and it’s a game show where they kill people in the game show. The first is a judge the second is a racist and the third is a rich guy. A lot of songs follow that pattern.
BTR: So they’re against courts, prisons and the carceral state, right?
BQ: Yeah. And that’s what they’re marching for. People think this is a joke but their fans have been labeled a gang. They’re one of those bands like KISS, where people are only into the ICP. their fans are only into one thing. And they get tattoos and wear the t-shirts. And people have been losing their jobs and getting fired and getting extra harsh sentences for small crimes and getting probation violations and gang supervisions for having tattoos and being a fan of a band. That’s missing in a lot of the stories having a lot of fun with the march. I wish they would explain that this is a legitimate grievance. It’s scary. The FBI is targeting fans of a band. It’s so weird.
The site for the Juggalo March has stories. This person got arrested for DUI or something and they tacked on extra time because they had a hatchet man tattoo. That’s wild to me. That’s terrible. They’re out there for a real reason.
What happens if they decide that people who like death metal or rap are in gangs? It all seems like a pretense for being able to harass people.
BTR: Why is it important for you to go?
BQ: I was a Juggalo, man. These are my people. Anybody who listens to the podcast would know we’re two working kids who grew up in working class neighborhoods. It feels like for me, I can talk to them. I’m not trying to radicalize them or change them but I do feel like they deserve to be heard and I know they could have been me. I had a bunch of different breaks that led me to where I am. But those kids getting probation and all that stuff could be me.