WASHINGTON, D.C. â€” Followers of the hip-hop group Insane Clown Posse â€” known asÂ Juggalos â€”Â heldÂ a marchÂ Saturday onÂ the NationalÂ Mall,Â alleging discrimination afterÂ the FBIÂ labeled the group a gang in a 2011Â report.
â€œWeâ€™re different. Weâ€™re not dangerous,â€ Kevin Gill, who is an announcer for a Juggalo wrestling league, said from the rally stage. â€œMusic is not a crime.â€
The band, consisting of the duo Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope,Â said the gang accusationÂ “has resulted in hundreds if not thousands of people subjected to various forms of discrimination, harassment, and profiling simplyÂ for identifying as a Juggalo.” InÂ a video on the theirÂ website, the hip-hop artists claim their fans have lost jobs, custody of their children and beenÂ denied access to the military for their Juggalo affiliation.
Alesia Modglin, a pizza delivery worker from southwest Missouri, said she felt compelled to drive to D.C. to protest the FBIâ€™s classification. She said the group draws in young people who grew up in troubled homes.
â€œItâ€™s a family â€¦ Everybody loves each other,â€ said Modglin, who came to the nation’s capital with her husband, two toddlers, and several other family members. She said some of the bandâ€™s songs are â€œdemonic, but there are hidden messages of a peaceful place.â€
Best of all, she said, thereâ€™s â€œno judgment.â€
Juggalos are known for displaying the band’s symbol, a man running with a hatchet, and the signature white-and-black face paint. The FBI placed Juggalos on the 2011Â National Gang Threat AssessmentÂ following reportsÂ of crimes committed by people with Juggalo tattoos and clothing. Federal officials estimateÂ there are more than one million Juggalos in the U.S.
Fonz Tobin, a 25-year-old from Albuquerque, N.M.,Â said the FBIâ€™s classification was ridiculous.
“Weâ€™re painting our faces and clowning around,â€ said Tobin, who joined the Juggalo when he was 13.
â€œI had no place to live. I had no food in my stomach,â€ he said. â€œThe people who took me in were the Juggalo … They pulled me into their family.â€
He said he works at Target and is trying to do film production on the side. â€œAm I out there dealing drugs? Am I out there shooting people up?â€ he said. â€œNo. I have a job.â€
Earlier Saturday in a separate gathering, hundreds of pro-Trump activists ralliedÂ on the National MallÂ in what they said was a show of American patriotism and celebration.
â€œWeâ€™re here to support our president and this country,â€ said Sue Babinec, who traveled to Washington from Cincinnati for what organizers dubbed the â€œMother of All Rallies.â€
U.S. Park Police braced for a crowd of as many as 3,000 people. As the event opened, there were perhaps only 1,000 people gathered just north of the Washington Monument.
If the crowd lacked the projected strength, they made up for it in show, with many participants decked out in pro-Trump garb and carrying American flags.
â€œAs soon as they announced it, I knew I had to be here,â€ said Dana Robinson, of Pittsburgh, as she weaved her way through the crowd in patchwork dress of Trump photos.
Trump is â€œone of us she said,â€ Robinson said. â€œHeâ€™s an every manâ€™s president … Heâ€™s doing great with no help from any of the Republicans.â€
A handful of Republican candidates also made their way to the stage, rallying the crowd with their Trump-style political pitches. â€œEverywhere you turn there are stumbling blocks to success,â€ said Bruce Nathan, a GOP candidate for governor of Florida, â€œput there by the federal government.â€
Meanwhile, Matthew Murguia, 52, from the Washington suburbs, arrived with a sign that said â€œMexico will pay for impeachment hearings.â€ Murguia said he came to the rally to â€œremind these people that their president, my president, is a liar.â€
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This is why the Juggalos are marching on Washington
Contributing: Sean Rossman