OGDEN -- Juggalos are the fastest-growing gang in Ogden, police officials say. But are all those with painted faces and an appreciation for Insane Clown Posse considered gang members?
Hundreds of area law enforcement officials met Wednesday at the Ogden Megaplex Theater to learn the ins and outs of the Juggalo lifestyle during the Northern Utah Gang and Youth Violence Conference.
"It's a major concern," said Ogden Police Lt. Scott Conley. "We have individuals (dressed like Juggalos) congregating and people asking about them."
A Juggalo is defined as an individual who is a fan of the rap duo Insane Clown Posse, who started calling their fans Juggalos after performing a song titled "The Jugglas."
Followers often wear distinct face makeup and certain symbols, such as the hatchet man, the logo of Psychopathic Records, the record label of ICP.
The keynote speaker for Wednesday's presentation works with law enforcement and Juggalos in Texas. He asked not to be identified because he wasn't approved to talk to the media and he didn't want his investigations to be compromised.
He painted a picture of Juggalos as people who often feel alienated or left out of their communities.
"It's really a fun, interesting subculture," he said. "It's designed around reaching to those who feel like they don't belong."
The speaker said group members identify themselves as a family.
The music from ICP and Psychopathic Records often has extremely violent undertones.
"What we have here is a genre that has blended old school rap with horror movies," the speaker said, referring to the genre as "horror core."
While being a fan of ICP, or even dressing as a Juggalo, does not automatically make a person part of a gang, many of the Juggalos have committed crimes -- as simple as graffiti and as serious as murder -- in groups.
"Just because you're a Juggalo doesn't mean you are a gangster," the speaker said. "There just happen to be Juggalo gangsters."
Conley said police have seen an increased presence of Juggalos in the Ogden community, which prompted the decision to make Juggalos a gang conference topic.
"We have had incidents with threats with a weapon. We've stopped them when they've had weapons," he said. "We're concerned about activities."
Conley said police also have seen an increase in violent activities and crime from the Juggalos in the area.
Who are Juggalos?
Juggalos and Juggalettes (female Juggalos) are fans of Insane Clown Posse, the hip-hop duo of Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope who perform a style of hardcore hip-hop that often has extreme violent undertones.
Juggalos often wear face paint, wear images associated with ICP, such as the hatchet man and evil clowns, and are fans of the soft drink Faygo.
While not all Juggalos are gang members, some do commit violent acts in groups, which qualifies them as a gang.
Source: Northern Utah Gang and Youth Violence Conference