Calling Juggalos the fastest-growing gang in Ogden, as was stated at a recent law enforcement conference in Junction City, is an overrreaction. It's a "solution" in search of a problem.
Juggalos are fans of the rap duo Insane Clown Posse. The group, which often spouts lyrics that are dysfunctional -- to say the least -- have painted faces. Juggalos also paint their faces.
"It's a major concern, We have individuals (dressed like Juggalos) congregating and people are asking about them," said Ogden Police Lt. Scott Conley. He added that Ogden police "have had incidents with threats with a weapon," and that police have stopped Juggalos who had weapons. Juggalos, by the way, are named after an ICP song, "The Jugglas."
All this is certainly a concern, but it's not enough to call that gang activity. For example, we're aware of people with unpainted faces and no tattoos who congregate, sometimes have weapons and occasionally issue threats, but that's not always gang activity. A distinct characteristic of a gang, such as Ogden Trece, is that it is a criminal enterprise. Juggalos are not an organized criminal gang. It seems to us that these Juggalos are both fans of a music group and people in search of an identity. They are not organized in the way a criminal gang is.
At the conference, a keynote speaker identified Juggalos in Texas as "a fun, interesting subculture," that is "designed as reaching to those who feel like they don't belong." He did add that Juggalos have committed crimes in groups.
We're not denying that Juggalos, just like the Straight-edgers of a while ago, will sometimes become violent, and we're confident law enforcement will do its best to restrain those who break the law. But it's wrong to attach the stigma of gang member to these people, many of whom are just trying to find a way to fit into society. On StandardNET, there were comments on the Juggalos news article from self-described Juggalos who protest being compared to gang members. Some described themselves as pacifists.
Anyone who commits a crime should be apprehended quickly by police, but it would be wrong if the sight of a Juggalo caused people to think "here's a criminal."