ACLU asks appeals court to reinstate ICP lawsuit over gang classification



Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asked a federal appellate court to reinstate its lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI, which seeks to remove Juggalos, the rap duo's fans, from a list describing them as a gang.

In a 44-page brief filed with the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, attorneys with the ACLU say the federal agencies' decision to place Juggalos on a list that defines the group as "a loosely affiliated hybrid gang" violates fans First Amendment rights. The lawsuit was tossed earlier this summer by a federal judge, who said the plaintiffs have no legal standing to pursue the case. That was a mistake, the ACLU of Michigan says.

"The district court’s ruling is based on a troubling misapplication of the standing doctrine. If the district court’s decision is not reversed, thousands of Juggalos will continue to suffer irreparable harm with no recourse against the federal agencies responsible for wrongfully designating them as gang members," the attorneys wrote in the brief. "Oral argument in this important appeal will assist this Court in understanding why the district court’s application of the standing doctrine was wrong as a matter of law."

Juggalos have faced a number of unjust investigations, unfair detentions, and other infringements on personal rights by the federal agencies, the ACLU of Michigansaid in a press release. 

“It should surprise no one that when the FBI tells local police officers that certain music fans are members of a criminal gang, the police are going to target individuals who express passion for the music," said Michael Steinberg, ACLU of Michigan legal director in a statement. "The FBI started this problem and it must end it by retracting a false and unconstitutional gang label that is causing serious harm to thousands of law abiding Americans.”

Back in January, former MT music editor, Brett Callwood, explained the background of the case in a lengthy cover story