By Ed White
DETROIT (AP) - The federal government can't be blamed for any fallout from a 2011 FBI report that put a gang tag on fans of the music group Insane Clown Posse, a judge said.
U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland dismissed a lawsuit by the rap-metal duo and fans, known as Juggalos, who said they've been targeted by police because they have jewelry or tattoos with the group's symbol, a man running with a hatchet.
Cleland said the U.S. Justice Department is not responsible for how authorities use a national report on gangs.
The report "does not recommend any particular course of action for local law enforcement to follow, and instead operates as a descriptive, rather than prescriptive, assessment of nationwide gang trends," Cleland said in a 14-page opinion last week.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a lawsuit on behalf of Juggalos and the group, claiming their constitutional rights to free speech and due process were violated by the report.
The FBI report labeled the Juggalos as a "loosely organized hybrid gang." It said those who identify as Juggalos have committed assaults and vandalism, and a "small number" of them have engaged in more serious crimes. There is no mention of them in the latest report.
The ACLU said it will appeal Cleland's decision.
"This is not the end. We'll keep fighting to clear the Juggalo family name," Insane Clown Posse member Joseph Bruce, known as Violent J, said in a statement released by the ACLU.
"While it is easy to fear what one does not understand, discrimination and bigotry against any group of people is just plain wrong and un-American," he said.