Juggalos Draw Bigger Crowd On The National Mall Than Pro-Trump Rally – HuffPost

 In U.S.
Nine months into the administration of President Donald Trump, fans of the eccentric Detroit rap duo Insane Clown Posse assembled a larger rally on the national mall this Saturday than the president’s diehard supporters stationed a few hundred yards away.

The dueling rallies reflected the difficulty that any sitting president has in mobilizing his base, and the particular challenge that Trump has as he struggles to pass major legislation and honor his campaign promises.

Unlike the pro-Trump rally, Juggalos, as clown-makeup-wearing Insane Clown Posse fans call themselves, protested on the National Mall on Saturday for an actual specific purpose. That could explain why the gathering that surrounded the base of the reflection pool at the Lincoln Memorial this afternoon was significantly larger than the pro-Trump rally.

In 2011, the FBI’s National Gang Intelligence Center designated Juggalos, who say they are simply fans of a band, as a “loosely organized hybrid gang,” saying a subset of the group is involved in criminal activity. The agency sent out briefing materials to all law enforcement offices around the country listing Juggalos as a gang alongside Crips, Bloods and MS-13. They pointed out particular signs to look for to see if a person was a Juggalo, like the “hatchet man” symbol of the Insane Clown Posse.

The result was that people who counted themselves fans of Insane Clown Posse have been fired from their jobs, lost children in custody battles and were targeted and harassed by police.

Kevin Gill, an employee for the band and host of a Juggalo podcast, gave the opening remarks, calling the rally, “The most important day in Juggalo history.” This protest was “some monumental shit,” he added, before ripping into a denunciation of the FBI for categorizing Juggalos as a gang. In response, the crowd broke into a raucous chant about the much-hated FBI, “They fucked up! They fucked up!”

“Give us back our fucking civil rights,” Gill shouted.

Gill and every other speaker at the Juggalo rally preached inclusivity with a passion that speakers at the pro-Trump rally reserved for subjects liker border security.

“We don’t care if you’re black, white, Hispanic, straight, gay, trans, fat as fuck or skinny as a broom stick,” Gill said, adding everyone is welcome to be or support Juggalos.

This was largely the message from the Juggalos in attendance.

“At the core of it, it’s just a battle cry against discrimination,” Christian Ike, a Juggalo who traveled from Los Angeles for the protest, told HuffPost. “Obviously there’s worse discrimination in this country than what the Juggalos are facing. But we’re here to say that we’re also with those people.”

Jessica, a Juggalo from Arlington, Virginia, who declined to give her last name, told HuffPost, “We’re not a gang. We don’t do that. We’re about love and family.”

“I’m tired of the FBI going around harassing people, pulling them over, people getting fired,” Kev aka “Juggs” from the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, said.

Four speakers recounted the ways that their lives have been negatively impacted by the FBI’s designation of Juggalos as a gang.

New Mexico resident Crystal Guerrero said that she lost custody of two children because she went to one Insane Clown Posse show. Laura King of Fredericksburg, Virginia, recounted how she was permanently placed on a gang registry while she was on probation for a DUI offense because she had a tattoo of the hatchet man symbol. Jessica Bonometti was fired from her job as a probation officer in Woodbridge, Virginia, because she liked some Insane Clown Posse-related photographs on Facebook.

Zac, a Juggalo from Utah County, Utah, wearing a bright orange suit while holding the Utah state flag, told HuffPost that he had been harassed numerous times by police and private security just for wearing Insane Clown Posse T-shirts and having bumper stickers on his car. He said that he doesn’t wear the clothes or decorate his car the way he’d like to because it makes him a target.

“I do not support Insane Clown Posse the way I normally would and I feel that it’s in violation of my rights as an American to support a band and that’s why I’m here,” he said.

Further east on the mall, closer to the U.S. Capitol building, pro-Trump activists had convened the “Mother of All Rallies,” to “help send a message to Congress, the media and the world: we stand united to defend American culture and values.”

As it turned out, the self-described “Woodstock of American rallies,” drew just a few hundred people, leaving much of the enclosed grass area allotted to the group empty for the duration of the afternoon. The lineup of speakers consisted mainly of D-list conservative leaders like Marco Gutierrez, the founder of Latinos for Trump, who famously warned that if the country did not curb immigration there would be “taco trucks on every corner.” No Republican members of Congress or elected officials of any major office were there.

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