A Federal Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit from ICP and several Juggalos against the DOJ and the FBI
In 2011 the FBI designated Juggalos as a gang in a 2011 report for the National Gang Intelligence Center
The lawsuit claimed the DOJ and FBI are violating Juggalo’s First and Fifth Amendment rights
A Michigan District Court dismissed the case after the FBI and DOJ claimed the report was not subject for review since it was not a final agency action
The federal appeals court backed the decision of the district court since the 2011 report is not a final agency action
A federal appeals court in Detroit dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Insane Clown Posse and their fans — known as Juggalos — against the Department of Justice for naming them as a “loosely-organized hybrid gang.”
Joseph Bruce and Joseph Utsler, better known as Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, have been fighting to get rid of the stigma placed on them by the DOJ, which makes the court decision a devastating blow. The claim began with a designation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2011.
The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit backed a district court decision that the FBI’s 2011 designation is not subject for review because it was not a “final agency action,” which makes it unable to be reviewed.
A group of self-identified Juggalos brought Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) claims against the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), asserting that the gang designation violated their First and Fifth Amendment rights. The district court determined that the gang designation was not a final agency action and dismissed the suit. We agree and affirm.
National Gang Intelligence Center
In 2005, Congress pushed former Attorney General John Ashcroft to create the National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC). Gang information was ordered to be housed and administered by the FBI. The FBI’s job was to analyze, and disseminate gang activity information received from various “federal agencies and federal, state, and local law enforcement, prosecutors, corrections officers, and jails,” according to court documents.
The FBI investigation described ICP’s songs as often using “harsh language and themes.” It was written that Juggalos “demonstrate their affiliation with the group by wearing, obtaining, or displaying distinctive tattoos, art, clothing, symbols, or insignia, including clown face paint and the ‘hatchetman’ logo.”
Appellants allege that Juggalos associate with each other “to listen to ICP’s music, to share ideas surrounding the music, to express their support of or interest in the ideas that ICP expresses through its music, to express their affiliation with ICP and the artists on its record label, and to express their affiliation with one another.”
The 2011 NGIC report accusing Juggalos of being “a loosely-organized hybrid gang,” was compiled information from federal, state, and local law enforcement and corrections agencies. The report also included “information and data provided by the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) and the National Gang Center . . . [and] information retrieved from open source documents and data collected through April 2011.”
As relevant here, the 2011 NGIC Report stated that “many Juggalo subsets exhibit gang-like behavior and engage in criminal activity and violence.” Id. at 22. Although “[m]ost crimes committed by Juggalos are sporadic, disorganized, individualistic,” and relatively minor, the 2011 NGIC Report explained that “a small number of Juggalos are forming more organized subsets and engaging in more gang-like criminal activity, such as felony assaults, thefts, robberies, and drug sales.”
The 2011 report noted that only Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, and Utah recognized Juggalos as a gang. However, the report also claimed “that Juggalo criminal activity has increased over the past several years and has expanded to several other states.”
In 2014, ICP and a handful of Juggalos filed an action for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief against the DOJ and the FBI in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The suit claimed the 2011 NGIC report violated Juggalo’s First Amendment rights of freedom of expression and Fifth Amendment due-process rights.
The district court granted a motion by the DOJ and the FBI to dismiss the case. The federal appeals court reversed the decision once it was determined there were enough alleged facts to pursue the APA claims against the DOJ and FBI. The two agencies filed a second motion to dismiss due to the Juggalo gang designation not being reviewable since it was not a final agency action. The district court granted the motion since it was not a final agency action and it was “committed to agency discretion by law.”
Now that the federal appeals court has backed the district court’s decision, clearing the Juggalo name appears to hold a grim future. The DOJ and FBI have legal ground as long as the Juggalo gang designation ceases to be a final agency action.