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Are There Juggalo Gangs in Austin? (Update)

clockwise from left; FBI, Ohio Attorney General's Office

Update: A commenter below and others on social media have noted Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo was asked about the FOX 7 story on KLBJ 93.7's "Dudley and Bob Show" this morning. Some believe he disputed the report on Juggalo gang members in Austin.

KUT News spoke with Chief Acevedo this afternoon. He says he does not dispute the content of FOX 7's reporting.

Original Post (12:47 p.m.): Has the dark carnival spread to Austin?

An anonymous Austin Police detective is saying that Juggalo gangs – fans of rap crew the Insane Clown Posse engaged in criminal activity – may be responsible for an increase in downtown crime.

FOX 7 News reports:

“The crimes associated with Juggalos include assaults, thefts and drug use. ‘They're doing a lot of pocket checks where they use force to take something from somebody. Or they'll come up [and] pick someone's pocket,’ the detective said. The victims, officers say, are downtown patrons who have had too much to drink. The homeless have also been targeted.”

For those not in the know, Insane Clown Posse is a Detroit-based rap group that has slowly amassed one of the most devoted fanbases in underground music.

ICP’s reach has grown to include a record label featuring a crew of associated Juggalo acts, a professional wrestling company, the resuscitation of an ailing soda brand, and most famously, its annual “Gathering of the Juggalos” concert (which was famously parodied on “Saturday Night Live”).

ICP’s emphasis on welcoming fans as “family” – evidenced in its infomercials for its “Gathering” events – appears to have been misinterpreted by some fans. The FBI included Juggalos in a 2011 gang assessment, writing that “at least 21 states have identified criminal Juggalo sub-sets.”

Wikipedia has a page of alleged Juggalo gangs; the FOX 7 report cites the local presence of the Capitol City Clowns. And over the summer, a thread on the Austin page of Reddit posited several Juggalo sightings downtown: “I work downtown on 6th street so I've been seeing all the new faces, and many a ‘hatchet man’ tattoo,” the poster wrote.

The detective cited by FOX 7 emphasized that not all ICP fans are gang members. "There's the fans and there's the ones we've seen here recently that we think are responsible for a rise in crime in the downtown area," he says. ICP hasn’t welcomed the additional scrutiny: at its 2012 gathering, ICP announced plans to sue the FBI over inclusion on the bureau’s gang list.

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.