Are Juggalos the new horror-clown face of anti-Trump anger?

They hate elites, the rich, Confederates and racists. They mask their faces in paint, worship the hardcore hip-hop artists Insane Clown Posse and have a top priority: defending their family and their honor.

They are the Juggalos, and they’re coming en masse to march Saturday on Washington.

The nominal reason is to protest their classification as a gang by the FBI, which had been discussed for years. But their march falls on the same day as the pro-Trump “Mother of All Rallies,” launched by the far-right patriot movement, with organizers involved with the recent — and violent — rally in Berkeley, California.

The strange face-off immediately led organizers and spectators to wonder: Is there a confrontation coming?

As Juggalos prepare for their journey to Washington, they’ve become the unwitting avatars of the fight against racism in President Donald Trump’s America. They didn’t ask to be held up as shock troops against the far right, but their anti-racist and anti-elitist reputation set them up as natural antagonists to Trump-style nativist xenophobia.

See members of the controversial group: 

13 PHOTOS
Juggalos and the Insane Clown Posse
See Gallery
Juggalos and the Insane Clown Posse
A counter protester against right-wing group Patriot Prayer in Juggalo facepaint wears a sandwich board in Portland, Oregon, U.S. September 10, 2017. Patriot Prayer announced they were moving their Sunday rally from downtown Portland to nearby Vancouver, Washington, citing fears for their safety. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JULY 26th: Flip Flop The Clown, a Juggalo from St. Petersburg, Florida in a lake at Lost Lakes Amphitheater in Oklahoma City on July 26th, 2017. (Photo by Devin Doyle for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JULY 27th: Steve, a Juggalo from Texas, poses at the 2017 Gathering of the Juggalos at Lost Lakes Amphitheater in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Photo by Devin Doyle for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - AUGUST 18: (L-R) Musicians Shaggy 2 Dope, Violent J and Esham from the group 'Insane Clown Posse' sign an autograph for a fan at the Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention on August 18, 2002 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michel Boutefeu/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JUNE 15: Violent J of Insane Clown Posse performs onstage at 247 SkyBar June 16, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joey Foley/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JUNE 15: Violent J of Insane Clown Posse performs onstage in a front of a sold out crowd at The Emerson Theater on June 15, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joey Foley/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JUNE 15: Shaggy 2 Dope of Insane Clown Posse performs onstage in a front of a sold out crowd at The Emerson Theater on June 15, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joey Foley/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JUNE 15: Violent J of Insane Clown Posse performs onstage in a front of a sold out crowd at The Emerson Theater on June 15, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joey Foley/Getty Images)
Insane Clown Posse (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 30: Rappers Shaggy 2 Dope (l) and Violent J (r) of the Insane Clown Posse pose backstage October 30, 2003 at the Riviera in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Harrison/Getty Images)
Insane Clown Posse, portrait, Detroit, United States, 1997. Violent J (Joseph Bruce) and Shaggy 2 Dope (Joseph Utsler). (Photo by Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images)
Insane Clown Posse, portrait, UK, 1997. (Photo by Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Soon enough, Marxist Juggalo memes popped up on the Facebook page for the march, and swathes of Twitter leftists swapped their online avatars for versions with the classic black-and-white Juggalo face paint. Major socialist and leftist contingents announced they would show up to march with the Juggalos in their battle against the state.

“Repression targeting a working-class subculture, and setting a dangerous precedent of casting wide nets, has to be challenged,” the Industrial Workers of the World wrote in a recent pledge for support against Juggalos repression. “An injury to one is an injury to all.”

So — regardless of anything else — Saturday could present two very different models for organizing an aggrieved white working class.

“Trump and Insane Clown Posse each have an unusual connection to an unusually loyal, even pathologically obsessive, fan base,” author and self-made Juggalo expert Nathan Rabin wrote for Cracked. “They also share a number of carny hustle/psychological appeals that the left could learn from while trying to figure out how to appeal to the angry voters who made the nightmare of President Trump happen.”

Juggalo culture is often characterized as a self-selected family of cast-offs practicing radical acceptance. Many say they come from broken homes, abuse or poverty. The group also boasts a history of anti-racism. ICP has burned Confederate flags on stage, and wrapped them around scarecrows that get thrown to the audience only to be torn to shreds.

RELATED: Unrest erupts in Charlottesville as protesters clash

44 PHOTOS
Charlottesville violence erupts as protesters and counterprotesters clash
See Gallery
Charlottesville violence erupts as protesters and counterprotesters clash
CHARLOTTESVILLE, USA - August 12: A White Supremacist kicks back a smoke bomb thrown by counter protestors during clashes at Emancipation Park where the White Nationalists are protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 12, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, USA - August 12: A White Supremacist tries to strike a counter protestor with a White Nationalist flag during clashes at Emancipation Park where the White Nationalists are protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 12, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
People receive first-aid after a car accident ran into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, VA on August 12, 2017. A vehicle plowed into a crowd of people Saturday at a Virginia rally where violence erupted between white nationalist demonstrators and counter-protesters, witnesses said, causing an unclear number of injuries. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, USA - August 12: Police, medical personnel, and other protestors attend to the injured people after a car rammed into a crowd of anti-White Supremacy protestors in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 12, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A woman who was injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally is helped in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts?
Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Rescue workers transport a victim who was injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A woman is received first-aid after a car accident ran into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, VA on August 12, 2017. A picturesque Virginia city braced Saturday for a flood of white nationalist demonstrators as well as counter-protesters, declaring a local emergency as law enforcement attempted to quell early violent clashes. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
People receive first-aid after a car accident ran into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, VA on August 12, 2017. A picturesque Virginia city braced Saturday for a flood of white nationalist demonstrators as well as counter-protesters, declaring a local emergency as law enforcement attempted to quell early violent clashes. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A woman is received first-aid after a car accident ran into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, VA on August 12, 2017. A picturesque Virginia city braced Saturday for a flood of white nationalist demonstrators as well as counter-protesters, declaring a local emergency as law enforcement attempted to quell early violent clashes. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, USA - August 12: A White Supremacist helps a friend after he was punched in the face during clashes with counter protestors at Emancipation Park where the White Nationalists are protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 12, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, USA - August 12: A counter protestor strikes a White Nationalist with a baton during clashes at Emancipation Park where the White Nationalists are protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 12, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, USA - August 12: White Supremacists and counter protestors clash at Emancipation Park where the White Nationalists are protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 12, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A man is seen with an injury during a clash between members of white nationalist protesters against a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Virginia State Police move in as members of white nationalist protesters clash against a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
People struggle with a Confederate flag as a crowd of white nationalists are met by a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Justin Ide
CHARLOTTESVILLE, USA - August 12: White Supremacists rush forward with shields and sticks during clashes with counter protestors at Emancipation Park where the White Nationalists are protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 12, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A white supremacists stands behind militia members after he scuffled with a counter demonstrator in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A white supremacists stands with militia members after he scuffled with a counter demonstrator in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A white supremacists stands behind militia members after he scuffled with a counter demonstrator in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - AUGUST 12: White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the 'alt-right' take refuge in an alleyway after being hit with pepper spray after the 'Unite the Right' rally was declared an unlawful gathering August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. After clashes with anti-facist protesters and police the rally was declared an unlawful gathering and people were forced out of Lee Park, where a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is slated to be removed. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Members of white nationalists are met by a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Members of white nationalists clash against a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A white supremacists carries the Confederate flag as he arrives for a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Virginia State Troopers stand under a statue of Robert E. Lee before a white supremacists rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A white supremacist holds a flag during a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A member of a white supremacists militia stands near a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Virginia State Police officer aims during clash protests in Charlottesville, VA on August 12, 2017. A picturesque Virginia city braced Saturday for a flood of white nationalist demonstrators as well as counter-protesters, declaring a local emergency as law enforcement attempted to quell early violent clashes. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, USA - August 12: White Supremacists and counter protestors clash at Emancipation Park where the White Nationalists are protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 12, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, USA - August 12: A White Supremacist with a White Nationalist flag during clashes with counter protestors at Emancipation Park where the White Nationalists are protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 12, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
First responders stand by a car that was struck when a car drove through a group of counter protesters at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Justin Ide
Rescue workers transport a victim who was injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A man who was hit with pepper spray reacts during a clash between a crowd of white supremacist protesters against a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Justin Ide
White supremacists clash with counter protesters during a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A white supremacist militia member stands in front of clergy counter protesting during rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A counter protest yells at white supremacists during a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A Virginia State Trooper stands guard at the crime scene where a vehicle plowed into a crowd of counter protesters and two other vehicles (rear) near the "Unite the Right" rally organized by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
White supremacists stand behind their shields at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

ICP’s first album, released in 1992, featured a song called “Your Rebel Flag” about violently murdering Confederates and racists. As today’s country’s pearl-clutching moderates wag their fingers at anti-fascist violence, and conservatives cling to Confederate monuments as proud symbols of Southern “heritage,” Juggalos have known where they stood for decades.

“Rednecks call it pride/ Pride for what?/ White pride for slavery it sickens my gut/ I see that flag as a challenge that you want to fight,” Violent J raps on the 2015 song “Confederate Flag,” warning listeners they’ll get “punched in their faces, reppin’ the racists.”

For liberal elites who want to see rural whites as irredeemable racists, Juggalos complicate the narrative.

“There’s Juggalos all over the South that don’t wave it/ Proud of where they’re from but that flag, they hate it/ Cause they understand it’s a symbol of slavery,” Shaggy 2 Dope raps on “Your Rebel Flag.”

Which is not to say that Juggalos are what a typical liberal would call “woke.” Beyond the sheer macho gruesomeness of ICP lyrics, the horrorcore rappers have been taken to task for casual misogyny and homophobia. The Juggalos’ yearly drug-fueled jamboree, the notorious Gathering of the Juggalos, is thick with a widely accepted show-me-your-tits ethos that’s unavoidable as a part of the festivities.

But there’s been a lot of progress through hard work outreach to the community, said Kitty Stryker, the co-founder of Struggalo Circus, a contingent of Juggalos who work on anti-racist activism. Juggalos now have their own feminist contingent called Lette’s Respect, and last year’s Miss Juggalette pageant hosted its first transgender contestant at the Gathering.

Juggalo culture’s emphasis on family and acceptance offers an opportunity for growth, Stryker said. But it takes time.

“Yes, there are issues, as there are issues with all of us,” she said. “You can ostracize them, or you can pull them in to talk and do the work.”

Addressing the darker behaviors in Juggalo subculture means confronting “call-out culture,” a point of fierce tension in online social justice circles. Liberal social media spaces can be punishing toward those who aren’t armed with the full range of acceptable language and behavior.

19 PHOTOS
White nationalist protesters lead 'Nazi-esque' rally in Charlottesville
See Gallery
White nationalist protesters lead 'Nazi-esque' rally in Charlottesville
Riot police protect members of the Ku Klux Klan from counter-protesters as they arrive to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Protesters direct obscene gestures towards members of the Ku Klux Klan, who are rallying in support of Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TEMPLATE OUT
Counter-protesters shout at members of the Ku Klux Klan, who are rallying in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TEMPLATE OUT
Members of the Ku Klux Klan face counter-protesters as they rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
A counter-protester is detained as members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Police detain a counter-protester during the aftermath of a rally by members of the Ku Klux Klan in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Counter-protesters lock arms in the middle of a street as police try to disperse them, after members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Police, clergy and free speech observers protect a man wearing a Confederate flag as a cape after he was surrounded by counter-protesters prior to the arrival of members of the Ku Klux Klan to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Counter-protesters help a man affected by pepper gas as police try to disperse them, after members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Police, clergy and free speech observers protect a man wearing a Confederate flag as a cape after he was surrounded by counter-protesters prior to the arrival of members of the Ku Klux Klan to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Riot police protect members of the Ku Klux Klan from counter-protesters as they arrive to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TEMPLATE OUT
Counter-protesters lock arms in the middle of a street as police try to disperse them, after members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments, such as the statue of General Stonewall Jackson above them, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan, standing near a tomato and and an orange that had been thrown at them by counter-protesters, hold a sign as they rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

“In the social justice sphere, if you fuck up, it’s going to haunt you for the rest of your online life regardless of if you’ve grown,” Stryker said. “I don’t know how effective that is. If you aren’t demanding people grow, what’s the point of calling them out?”

A galvanizing moment for Juggalos came when the FBI classified the group as a gang in 2011. While the FBI classification sounds absurd, the consequences are very real.

In preparation for the march, Juggalos began sharing their stories of oppression — there are stories of Juggalos being kicked out of school for wearing ICP T-shirts, Juggalos harassed by the police and Juggalos fired from their jobs. Multiple Juggalos said they were denied the chance to serve in the military because of their ICP tattoos, an issue that led to ICP joining with enlisted servicemen in suing the Department of Justice over the gang classification.

Their classification as a gang creates a kinship with marginalized groups targeted by law enforcement, whether by race, religion or politics. In that spirit, Black Lives chapters have voiced support. As Politico recently reported, the Department of Homeland Security has begun classifying antifa as “domestic terrorists,” creating the context for similar treatment of those who identify as anti-fascist. (Whether antifa will make an appearance Saturday remains unclear.)

But not all Juggalos are down with the cries for solidarity. Across the Facebook page for the march, Juggalos still argue about whether their family is being co-opted to choose sides in a symbolic fight between anti-fascist left resistance and Trumpian far-right conservatism. It’s not just the left — Juggalos that spoke to Mic said organizers on the right have staked a claim on the Juggalo march.

“There’s a belief among some Juggalos that both sides want us to be canon-fodder — which, let’s be real, has been traditional way political parties have dealt with the poor since time immemorial,” Stryker said. “Juggalos are right to be suspicious of that.”

And so, Stryker advises groups like the Democratic Socialists of America to show up with material support. Since the presidential election, the DSA’s become the largest socialist group in the United States since World War II, partially through simple community programs like the New Orleans chapter’s initiative to install free brake lights for those who need them. For the Juggalo March, the Washington, D.C., chapter is making free stickers and buying up Faygo, a Detroit-based soda and the Juggalo drink of choice, to distribute during the march.

“It’s less about lecturing people on Marxism and more about reaching out to a population we don’t represent well,” Allison Hrabar, the DSA member coordinating the pro-Juggalo contingent for the upcoming march, told Mic.

Will Saturday’s march take a violent turn? Juggalos interviewed for this article, along with the sentiment expressed on countless Facebook discussions about the march, suggest they intend on keeping things peaceful, . They’re just looking for supporters in their fight against the FBI.

And as for their prospective new friends?

“Through a compassionate exchange of information,” the Industrial Workers of the World wrote in its pledge, “we can emerge as comrades.”

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.