Are you down with the clown? I fucking am now. For the majority of my life--especially because I grew up in Michigan--I've been been aware of the existence of Juggalos and Juggalettes (the community's term for women-identifying Juggalos). For the uninitiated, they are a devoted and tightly-knit community of super fans of the Detroit-based rap group Insane Clown Posse (ICP) and related musicians like Twiztid, Blaze Ya Dead Homie, and Tech N9ne. In 2011, because of the isolated actions of a few random Juggalos over the years, the FBI identified the fans at-large as a "loosely-organized hybrid gang" in their National Gang Threat Assessment report. This has resulted in some serious repercussions for the Juggalo community--gang affiliation can lead to discharges from the military, losing custody of one's children, amplified sentencing for minor crimes, profiling by police, and more. Needless to say, the community is understandably upset with being likened to MS-13 just because they like to paint their faces in clown makeup and jovially spray one another with thrifty soda brand Faygo.
With the assistance of the ACLU of Michigan, ICP and a handful of fans sued the FBI in 2014 in an effort to have the gang designation dropped. A district court in Michigan initially tossed the case out, arguing that the plaintiffs failed to show that they had suffered any injuries. But two years ago a federal appeals court in Ohio ruled that ICP would indeed have their day in court. The case is ongoing and clearly a headache for ICP members Violent J (Joseph Bruce) and Shaggy 2 Dope (Joseph Utsler). But what's especially distressing about this patently unfair gang designation is that it puts thousands and thousands of fans of the group--there are a fuckton of Juggalos and Juggalettes out there--at risk of having their lives violently impacted. Most of them are working class or marginalized people who cannot afford lengthy litigation processes to protect themselves from disproportionate responses to minor infractions. And the designation has set a dangerous precedent; if ICP fans are labeled a gang, who's next?
Last year, ICP announced that they would mobilize their community to make their voices heard by marching on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in September 2017. As it made the rounds online, the Juggalo March on Washington was, at first, a somewhat funny concept. Would thousands of clowns actually descend on our nation's capital? And if they did, would they be able to behave themselves? In hindsight, I regret ever having cracked jokes at the expense of the Juggalos several years ago, or questioning recently if they could pull off a massive peaceful demonstration. Today, I am proud to report that I am an absolute, enthusiastic supporter of the Juggalo family and have accepted that I actually kind of like ICP's music. Who was I trying to kid before? My last name is literally Carney. On Saturday, I attended the Juggalo March on Washington and I had the greatest fucking time of my entire life. Juggalos and Juggalettes rule and have built a community unlike any other that I've witnessed before. Contemporary artists talk a big game about community, but the Juggalos are light years ahead of us.
I'd like to apologize in advance for the length of this piece, but there is a whole lot to talk about. If you're a Juggalo or a Juggalette reading this, first of all: WHOOP WHOOP -- thank you for having us! Second: if you spot somebody in a picture that I should shout out in a caption, if you'd like a photo of yourself removed, if I have made any inaccurate statements, or if you just want to say what's up, please shoot me an email at:
Let's get to chewin'.
On Friday, my buddy and frequent collaborator, artist Michael Welsh (credited under his photos hereafter as MW), and I hopped a Vamoose bus from New York City to Arlington, VA. His awesome mom, Dianne, lives in Arlington and put us up for the weekend. Shout out to Dianne. We spent the evening sipping Modelos, getting all of our gear in order, and discussing whether or not, as the media had speculated, there would end up being some kind of showdown between the Juggalos and the white supremacists--sorry, "conservatives"--who'd organized the Mother of All Rallies to happen at roughly the same time on the National Mall. Having grown up around ICP fans, I wasn't remotely worries for their safety; Juggalos are not to be fucked with. I was just afraid of the media shitstorm that would result if a group of otherwise peaceful clowns had to defend themselves against some alt-right assholes.
The following morning, we woke up and Dianne drove us the short distance to Key Bridge, which connects the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington to Washington, D.C. We strutted across the bridge like a couple of screedlers and sauntered into the town where Kevin Spacey works in House of Cards. I hadn't been to D.C. since I was in the eighth grade, and I was pleased to see that it still sucks just as uncontrollably as I remembered. We arrived at the National Mall around 12:30pm, and I cannot explain how awesome it was watching confused tourists do mental gymnastics as they tried to understand why there were suddenly so many clowns everywhere. ICP had asked the Juggalos to assemble in front of the Lincoln Memorial around 1:00pm, so to kill some time we decided to walk over to the Mother of All Rallies and see just how motherly it was.
When we arrived at the Mother of All Rallies, I completely lost my shit. It was the saddest, goofiest thing I had seen in years. A generous estimate in some media outlets said that there were approximately 300 people in attendance at one point, but when we cruised through it was most definitely less than that. I could spend paragraphs slamming the event, but that's not what we're here for. This is a report on the amazing Juggalo family, not a report on a bunch of MAGA maniacs. However, I would like to let everybody know that I almost had a fucking stroke when, apropos of nothing, they inexplicably began blasting "Mambo No. 5" by Lou Bega.
Watching a bunch of bozos who are horny for flags is really only entertaining for a few minutes. Mostly, their event was just depressingly boring and emotionally draining. It was nearing 1:00pm, and we were severely in need of a boost. It was time to join the Juggalos.
As we arrived at the Lincoln Memorial, shouts of "WHOOP WHOOP" began to fill the air. Surrounding oneself with the positive vibes and communal spirit of the Juggalos and Juggalettes is an excellent way to shake off the residue of something like the Mother of All Rallies. Here was a group, numbering in the thousands, of people who'd come together to let the country know that while they might like songs about chopping people up with hatchets, they're actually all about love. And they were representing every part of the country. We spoke with people from Oregon, California, Delaware, Michigan, and Georgia, amongst many others. Juggalos are everywhere, and they each count every single other Juggalo and Juggalette as family. The concept of family is central to their scene.
I met Tina and Mike from Chicago on the lawn in front of the Lincoln Memorial. They'd driven 10.5 hours overnight to get to D.C. I asked what had inspired them to make such a long trek to be at the march, and Mike's answer was beautiful in its simplicity.
"Family," he told me. Tina nodded and smiled. They are keen to let the world know that they're not part of any criminal empire.
"We're just hardcore ICP fans," Mike said. "They're trying to represent us as a gang. We're not a gang. We're just a big, happy family." I told them that I was originally from Michigan, not too far from Chicago.
"Whoop whoop," Mike said approvingly. I whoop whooped in return, thanked them for speaking with me, and wandered off to speak to some more folks.
Every single person that I encountered on Saturday was so fucking nice, and completely nonjudgemental. People asked me where I was visiting from. They wanted to make sure that I was enjoying myself. I was repeatedly offered cold water, cold Faygo, and snacks by total strangers. When I spoke with Seth and Summer, Juggalos from Charlotte, NC, I also asked them what compelled them to take time out of their lives to drive to D.C. and participate in this demonstration. "It's simple," Seth said. "Joe asked us to."
"Who's Joe?" I asked.
"Joe. Joseph Bruce. That's Violent J," he clarified. "Listen, we like to keep it in our clique. Fuck the outside, right? Now, even saying that though, we're just a group of people that love music. We're no gang. That's the reason we're here. The FBI revises their gang list every seven years. They're revising it soon, and if we don't get off it, we'll be on there for the next seven years. That's our objective. The goal is to get off that list."
Hailing from Philadelphia, Juggalettes Jasmine and Maggie told me that it was a given that they'd be coming to the Juggalo March on Washington. "We travel for everything," Jasmine said. "We come out to all their shows and to all the Gatherings."
For those new to the Juggalo world, the Gathering of the Juggalos is an annual summer festival put on by the independent label, Psychopathic Records, that Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope founded years ago. For a fun little introduction, check out this short documentary that Noisey made at the 13th Gathering with rapper Danny Brown. It is always an epic affair, and after feeling so welcomed and looked after on Saturday, I'm fixing to make my way there this summer.
"Why wouldn't we come out and have their back when they're trying to have ours?" Jasmine asked me. "And beyond protesting the gang designation, I'm just here to be with everybody."
Maggie agreed, and added, "Look, it's not just us, it could be anybody [getting designated as a gang]. Just don't put people into categories. This has caused problems in people's personal lives."
Maggie knows about those personal problems firsthand. She told me that she used to work on an ambulance and after work one day, dressed in her full Emergency Medical Service gear, she visited a friend who was in prison. But because she was wearing a backpack with the Hatchetman logo on it, the guards handcuffed, detained, and searched her as she was leaving the premises. They told her that they were within their rights to do so because she was displaying gang-affiliated imagery. It's literally a cartoon logo for a rap group of clowns.
"We have jobs. We pay taxes. We live normal lives," Jasmine, who is a mother, told me. "This is the one bit of fun that we really get to have. This is what sets our eyes on fire. It makes us feel good and gives us a purpose beyond our normal, everyday lives. The gang designation is ridiculous. They designate us as a 'loosely-organized' group because we know how to schedule events and then show up to them."
I asked Jasmine about her thoughts on the Mother of All Rallies happening simultaneously, mentioning that it seemed like it was made up of a group of people whose foundational belief system is hinged on a fear of the other.
"Beyond music," Jasmine replied, "One thing that all Juggalos have in common is that we accept anybody. And 'anybody' means that we don't judge people based on their background, or what they look like, or how old they are. Typically, I would say that if you're down with the clown, you're a Juggalo. But in my personal opinion, if you're a racist ICP fan, you're probably not actually a Juggalo."
ICP has been overtly antiracist since their inception. On their first record released twenty-five years ago, Carnival of Carnage, the song "Your Rebel Flag" features a blunt call-and-response chorus of the group repeatedly yelling "Fuck your rebel flag." Early ICP material certainly contained its fair share of ill-advised jokes that now seem homophobic and misogynistic, but the group has matured with age. And by "matured," I mean they're far more sensitive about making jokes at the expense of people who experience marginalization, and they've become vocal about the Juggalo community being a safe space for all ethnicities, all sexual orientations, all socioeconomic classes, and all gender identities. They're still more than happy to describe in detail dismembering someone with an axe, though.
Juggalos definitely have some collective defining characteristics like acceptance and love, but they're not a monolith. Jasmine explained that Juggalos are feeling a little skeptical about suddenly being embraced as poster children for the political left, and that they're also a politically diverse group. Recruitment attempts in an effort to fulfill a political agenda just doesn't feel right to her. And that makes sense. Juggalos have been historically maligned, and they have every right to be suspicious of the sudden interest that they're receiving. The attitude and character they've cultivated is certainly appealing in its "Fuck You-ness," but it's uniquely theirs and ought not to be co-opted by anybody else. If leftists want to grow a relationship with Juggalos around class struggle, they've got to first learn how to be down with the clown.
While walking around the mall, I ran into Brett Payne and Bryan Quinby, hosts of the popular anarcho-comedy show Street Fight Radio out of Columbus, OH. If you're looking for examples of how the political left can connect with Juggalos for real, look no further. Brett and Bryan are both real, longtime fans of ICP and showed up to celebrate and show support, not to recruit. After the march, they released a Patreon-patron-only premium episode from August to the general public where they spoke with Kitty Stryker, Ape, and Rich (AKA @raiderlo510) out of Oakland. Kitty, Ape, and Rich are members of the Struggalo Circus, a political organizing group that describes itself as "a ragtag and messy coalition between radicals and Juggalos. We're libertarians, socialists, communists, anarchists, and more!"
Side note: For New York readers, Street Fight Radio will be doing two shows in Brooklyn in October. The first is Friday, October 20th with Chapo Trap House at Littlefield. It looks like it's sold out, but sometimes where there's a will, there's a way. Bryan and Brett will also be doing a live episode of the Humor and the Abject podcast on Sunday, October 22nd in Bushwick. It'll be a free show, so follow Humor and the Abject on Twitter to get the details coming soon, or follow my personal account: @SocMalpractice. I'll get that info out ASAP.
I asked Brett why it was important for Street Fight to come out in solidarity at the Juggalo March on Washington. He told me, "ICP has been a part of our lives since we were teens. Bryan made the promise to be down with the clown 'til he's dead in the ground. The gang designation is a fight everyone should be involved with because it's dangerous and absurd."
Metal Face, who came down to D.C. from Delaware to attend the march, echoed Brett's concerns about how dangerous the gang designation had been to their community. A friend of hers, who is a Juggalette, is currently in a custody battle with her child's father and he's threatened to tell the judge that she's in a gang, practically guaranteeing that she'll lose custody.
"She was so scared," Metal Face explained, "That she went out and spent hundreds of dollars getting her Hatchetman tattoo covered up."
A mother herself, Metal Face is angered by the idea that somebody could take her children from her simply because she loves a specific band.
"This is America," she told me. "And this gang designation is a violation of my First Amendment rights. My husband and I love our two kids, and they're gonna grow up Juggalos because this lifestyle teaches nothing except peace, love, and acceptance. Our kids love us, and if they were taken from us, they would be devastated."
She'd actually stopped by the Mother of All Rallies before linking up with the Juggalos just to have a glance, and immediately the crowd there was offended by her spray painted American flag. Someone actually snatched it from her, she told me, and tried to run away until she managed to get a police officer to intervene. She explained to me that the paint on the flag wasn't some casual, disrespectful act. Quite the opposite, actually. It's a representation of a friend of hers, Cannibal, who died from multiple stab wounds while intervening to save a woman and her child from a man who was attacking them while high on PCP.
"And my friend was labeled a scumbag, as trash, by society," she said more calmly than I would have. "But that guy was a hero."
The man who'd grabbed her flag didn't ask her what it was about before deciding that it was his patriotic right to steal it from her. The police officers also didn't arrest him. Metal Face was understandably frustrated, pointing out that if the tables were turned and it was her knocking MAGA hats off people's heads, looking the way that she looks, she's sure that she would have been arrested.
Shannon, a friend of Metal Face's, wants the stereotyping of Juggalos as violent degenerates to stop. She points out that Juggalos, like everyone else, work for a living and contribute to society and culture. Multiple protest signs at the march had variations of an "American Juggalo Taxpayer" theme. Juggalos could be ringing you up at the grocery store, or taking care of one of your elderly parents in a nursing home, Shannon pointed out. The fact that their musical preferences don't align with the mainstream's is no reason to be assuming that they're somehow not intelligent, empathetic people.
Obviously, the vast majority of Juggalos across the United States couldn't make it down to D.C. over the weekend, so I wanted to hear from a few people who didn't have the opportunity to go. Through my friend Scott Cummings, who directed the 2014 film Buffalo Juggalos in collaboration with a group of ICP fans in his hometown upstate, I was able to reach out to Jonny Blaze and Sarah Mack. Both were part of the film and serve as unofficial, but peer-recognized, representatives for the Juggalo community of Buffalo, NY.
Within Buffalo, Sarah is affectionately referred to as the Juggalo Mom for welcoming people into her home. She's also one of the organizers behind Buffalo's Juggalo Outreach Program, an organization run by civic-minded Juggalos. They offer Crisis Counseling, food and shelter to temporarily displaced Juggalos and "Juggalo-friendly peoples," and volunteer in community service by doing street cleaning, helping out at charitable events, and other awesome stuff.
Over Facebook Messenger, Sarah gave me her perspective on being a Juggalo and what the march meant to her.
"To me, being a Juggalo is about not judging a book by its cover, or by the books that are on the same shelf, and accepting people for who they are," she wrote. "The Juggalo March was very important to our community. We showed the world that we aren't all criminals and degenerates. We showed that we can be peaceful and clean. Since they couldn't take it upon themselves to look past the negativity and find the positive, we showed them that. Maybe now they will do their research before judging a whole group by a few bad apples... We marched for freedom of speech and equality. We marched to make ourselves heard. And I do believe it worked."
I believe that it worked, too. Throughout the day, I overheard multiple people who had just stumbled upon the march asking Juggalos what it was all about. Then I'd see those same people, an hour later, explaining to someone else that the FBI had labeled all of these people as a gang even though they were just fans of an out-there genre of music. At least a dozen Juggalos that I saw were also carrying garbage bags and picking up trash all over the mall, whether it was generated by Juggalos or by tourists. I spoke with a professional-looking couple who'd recently moved to D.C. and had read about the march in the newspaper. They'd also seen the Mother of All Rallies earlier, which they described to me as "extremely tense." They thought the Juggalo March on Washington was the coolest thing they'd ever seen on the National Mall, and expressed bewilderment that a group of people as peaceful as this could be labeled a gang.
When Scott Cummings decided to temporarily move home to Buffalo to work on the Buffalo Juggalos film, Jonny Blaze was the first Juggalo in the community who responded when he started reaching out to them on Facebook. A fifteen-years-and-counting Juggalo, Jonny is part of a musical group called NFG (No Fucks Given) along with rappers Hostility, Booth, EmCee Wilkes, and Militant Diction. I hit him up on Facebook and he responded quickly.
"I think this march was a huge stepping stone for the Juggalo community," he wrote. "And as a Juggalo who has been affected by the gang classification--and classified as an active gang member because of my tattoos and the fact that I do horrorcore music myself--I think the march is important. I'm noticing that Juggalos and Juggalettes just like myself all over our country, especially in small towns, are being penalized by the fullest extents of the law. They've been harassed and mistreated by police, judges, employers, and even landlords simply for having a Hatchetman tattoo or the word Juggalo on their body, or for something as simple as wearing an ICP or Twiztid shirt... People tend to fear what they don't understand, but if they were able to see 'behind the paint,' so to speak, much like Scott was able to experience during the making of Buffalo Juggalos, they would see a bunch of individuals from all walks of life who have come together not only for each other, but also for the communities of people that our cities, states, and country seems to neglect."
There were many stories shared by Juggalos and Juggalettes outlining specific instances in their own lives, and their friends' lives, where the gang designation had caused devastating problems for them. Around 2:30pm, several different folks took the stage to tell heartbreaking tales. The crowd yelled loudly in support of their plights, and loudly in protest of the FBI. Kevin Gill, of Psychopathic Records, at one point asserted, "The FBI is just mad they don't get pussy." The crowd went absolutely nuts, and I totally lost it. Had anything that insanely outrageous ever been amplified that loudly over the National Mall?
Following the testimonials, multiple people took the mic to express their support of the Juggalos, from writers, to friends, to the official "Juggalawyer," Farris Haddad. The designated time for the march to begin had passed, but things were just barely behind schedule. The crowd in front of the stage became more and more packed as Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope would soon be "addressing the nation." When they were finally introduced, everyone went completely apeshit and what followed was perhaps one of the most bizarre, funniest, and actually quite heartfelt speeches I'd ever witnessed. I'm almost completely sure that it was the first time that talking about sewing someone's butthole shut had boomed out from speakers in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope spoke at length about why they'd organized the event and how important it was for the Juggalos and Juggalettes who'd come to D.C. to demonstrate peacefully and respectfully. The rapport between ICP and the audience was hilarious; while Juggalos are super fans of ICP, they don't treat them like idols. At one point, Shaggy 2 Dope did something to the laptop that made the text of their prepared speech disappear. He apologized to the crowd for having to pause the speech, explaining that he wasn't a computer guy. They responded immediately with chants of, "YOU FUCKED UP. YOU FUCKED UP." He smiled and nodded, acknowledging that he had, indeed, fucked up.
As they wrapped their speech, the energy was buzzing and I was extremely excited for the march to begin. It look a little bit to file so many people over to the walking path, but it was a sight to behold. I ran ahead of the group to attempt to get at least a partial video of the full length of the march. Check it out below, and marvel at the hilarious protest signs, the variety of chants, and the impressive numbers of actual Juggalo nuclear families pushing strollers.
As I said earlier, besides their accepting community and a spirit of familial love, the Juggalos represent all types of different people with different politics. This was evident as the march spread out and different pockets of people emerged. Some were staunchly left in their chants, yelling, "FUCK THE POLICE" and "ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS."
Other groups cast a wider net of fuck, hollering, "FUCK THE WORLD." And then still others stuck to simpler chants of "FAMILY! FAMILY!" or the apolitical, but contagious call-and-response of "WHOOP WHOOP."
AntiFa were present, but understood that this was a context where they should take a back seat. The Juggalos didn't need any protecting, and they barely even registered the Mother of All Rallies, which they inarguably dwarfed exponentially, as they passed by it. By a certain point, AntiFa members were just dancing to music, one of them even breaking rank while I was filming to run in front of my camera and attempt a quick dab. LOL.
At one point, as I was walking backwards shooting photos and video, one of the Juggalettes in the image above dived forward and grabbed my arm, yelling, "Watch out!" I turned around just in time to see a steaming pile of horse shit dropped by the mounted police only inches from my feet. I thanked her profusely, and she just smiled and said, "We take care of family."
People were consistently looking out for one another, helping them to pick up dropped protest signs, sharing sunblock, offering tips on where to grab food. Anytime there was a backup when a critical mass hit a tight turn around the National Mall--jokingly referred to as a "Juggalo Block" by multiple people--everyone would slow down calmly, step aside for wheelchairs and strollers, and strike up conversations to pass the time. One man, who looked to be part of AntiFa, stood in front of a patch of very wet mud and directed people around it.
About three quarters of the way through the march, I spotted another giant pile of horse shit on the walking path. Taking a cue from folks earlier, I stood in front of it to warn people. Within a couple of minutes, the very Juggalettes who'd earlier saved me from poop in the road approached and offered a "THANK YOU! THANK YOU!" chant for me. I was beaming that I'd gotten to return the favor.
Then, somebody screamed, "There's a poop dollar!" A rogue dollar bill had been stuffed into the pile of horse shit. People whooped wildly, asking who would be bold enough to claim the poop dollar. Out of nowhere, a friend I'd met earlier suddenly broke character, stopped his limping, dived into the fray, and claimed the poop dollar. People went fucking nuts.
The march wrapped back around at the end to the Lincoln Memorial. The general vibe upon completion of that part of the demonstration was one of collective pride. Thousands of Juggalos and Juggalettes from all over the United States had traveled to Washington, D.C., thrown a spectacle of an event, and made their voices heard. J-Webb from Psychopathic Records got on stage and read an impassioned letter of support and solidarity from Michael Steinberg, Director of the ACLU of Michigan. Steinberg has been working with ICP in their lawsuit against the FBI and promised to fight tirelessly on their behalf. At the end of the letter, he officially declared himself a "Juggalawyer."
Shortly after, WOLFPAC took the stage, and people danced and shouted, evidently only further energized by the march. We dipped for a minute to catch a beer and rest our legs, missing a few sets of music, but when we returned the sun had set and Big Hoodoo had taken the stage. Watching live Juggalo music blasting at extreme volumes over the National Mall at night with the Lincoln Memorial glowing in the background isn't something that I ever thought I'd see in my life, but I'm very fucking glad that I did.
And at 9:00pm, the moment everyone had been waiting for came. The Insane Clown Posse took the stage on the National Mall to conclude a massively successful Juggalo March on Washington with a completely free concert. They kicked off with "Hokus Pokus," and played many fan favorites like "Chicken Huntin'," "Birthday Bitches," and several others. Streams of Faygo and glow sticks filled the air.
While standing near the edge of the reflecting pool shooting some video, my buddy, Michael, was approached by a very tall and burly Juggalo who was all painted up. He asked Michael, "Hey, man. Are you a Juggalo or a journalist?"
"Not really either, I guess," Michael responded. "We just came down from Brooklyn to show support and my buddy wanted to write about the march."
"So, a journalist then," the Juggalo replied. Michael shrugged and nodded. "Well," continued the Juggalo. "Let me ask you something."
"Okay," Michael responded.
"Are you having a good time?"
"Yeah," Michael responded. "I'm having a fucking great time."
"Are you going to let the people in your life know that you had a great time?" asked the Juggalo.
"I can't wait to tell the people in my life what a great time I had," Michael said.
"Good, man," said the Juggalo. "Thank you for coming out here. Thank you for getting it. WHOOP WHOOP!"
"WHOOP WHOOP!" Michael crowed in response. The Juggalo hugged him and wandered off towards the stage.
As ICP finished "Birthday Bitches," I sat down on the steps leading up to the Lincoln Memorial. I was exhausted. Checking my phone's fitness app, it said that we'd walked 11.8 miles that day. Granted, we were running around like maniacs trying to get pictures and talk to as many people as possible, but I didn't realize we'd covered that much ground. I took the last few sips of my water bottle and stared out onto the National Mall at the thousands of Juggalos losing their shit to ICP's historic set. My body was tired as hell, but I felt high as a kite.
Something to my right side caught my eye and I turned to see what it was. A little girl, maybe two years old, with a pacifier in her mouth and an ICP shirt big enough to be her blanket was staring at me from a foot away on the steps, her arms spread open. Perplexed, I kind of stared at her for a second, then noticed her father standing behind her.
"She's a hugger," the Juggalo dad told me. "She just wants to say bye to all of her family before we leave."
Still seated, I stretched out my arms and she sort of waddled in and embraced me with one of the strongest little hugs I've ever received. Of course, I was completely emotional at this point. She let me go, backed up a little bit, and with her pacifier still in her mouth mumbled, "Thank you for coming."
She started to go down the steps and Michael was right there. She reached her hand out to him, and he took it and helped her down the stairs towards her mom. Her dad followed behind Michael, then told him thanks for helping her out.
"She loves meeting new people," he told Michael.
The Juggalo March on Washington was a massive success, and nearly all of the press coverage that I saw the following day gave glowing reviews of the community. I'd like to express my sincerest gratitude to everyone that I met, especially those who offered their trust and spoke candidly with me about their reasons for marching and their experiences dealing with the FBI's gang designation. All Juggalos and Juggalettes across the United States, and across the world, should feel deeply proud at how well they organized and represented themselves. Upon our return to New York Sunday night, we dropped by a friend's opening at a gallery in Chinatown. Several of our peers had been following along via my Twitter and Michael's Instagram posts the previous day. We were like a couple of excited schoolboys, chatting every single person up about our incredible experience and how welcoming the Juggalos had been to us. We had to remember to stop telling the same stories to the same people, but our friends were genuinely interested in the march and the Juggalo community, and the questions kept coming.
We went down to Washington, D.C. to express our solidarity with a community that's been marginalized by the federal government, and to try to hopefully communicate to the Juggalos that just because we live in New York and identify as artists, we don't see ourselves as any different from them. I'm still processing the whole experience, but I feel inspired and humbled by the folks that we met.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this sprawling, possibly ridiculous piece of writing, artists could learn a lot about mutual support and solidarity from the Juggalos. My hope is that by reading this, artists will take an interest in supporting the work of the Juggalos and Juggalettes who are organizing to assert their right to let their freak flags fly freely. Let's let them inspire us to imbue our own communities with more solidarity.
What exactly we can do for the Juggalos is something that I'm still trying to figure out, but if you're a Juggalo reading this who has any ideas or requests, please let me know. For now, I'll simply spread the Juggalo gospel to anybody who will listen, and make myself available for conversations or suggestions. Artists often fancy themselves as people who speak truth to power, and I'd like to offer that the Juggalo family might serve as an aspirant model for our own future endeavors.
WHOOP WHOOP. Peace, love, and Faygo.
- Sean J Patrick Carney