When nearly two thousand Insane Clown Posse fans descended on Washington, D.C. on Saturday to protest the FBI's classification of those who are "down with the clown" as a "Hybrid Gang," it was the first time that were met with widespread sympathy.
Few paid attention when the FBI deemed the group's fans a gang of sorts in 2011. In 2014, Shaggy and Violent J— the two clown-face-painted members of the rap group—teamed up with the ACLU. Last year, the duo began planning for a march on the capital, and still only a handful of reporters took notice.
But then the "Mother Of All Rallies," a pro-Trump gathering, was scheduled and permitted for the same day, in almost the same location. Twitter and Reddit lit up with memes and machinations of clowns and Nazis duking it out in the Reflecting Pool, under the mirrored image of the Washington Monument. Antifa was rumored to be planning an appearance and it all sounded too ridiculous to miss.
None of that happened.
Only a few hundred people showed up for the Trump rally — Sad! — and few of them walked the mile to the Lincoln Memorial, where the much bigger Juggalo event was located. The handful of proud boys and white nationalists (identifiable by their bumble-bee striped Fred Perry polos) were massively outnumbered by smoking grandmas confined to scooters.
The media coverage of the event, though, meant that it was for many people a first glimpse at a subculture based primarily on anti-classist ideals, from guys who were rapping Fuck your rebel flag" long before most people had even considered removing Robert E. Lee statues. Positioning themselves as champions of the underdogs, the losers, and the poor, Juggalos will take on anyone who doesn't fit in elsewhere and make them family, chanting "F-A-M-I-L-Y" over and over again in case someone was feeling lonely.
"In the eyes of Juggalos, there is no such thing as a V.I.P.," Violent J declared, to a resounding "woop, woop," from the crowd.
"The joke is always on the haters and naysayers," says Rich Williams, 29, of Oakland, CA. He'd come with his Bay Area "homies" to represent the group he helped to create: The Struggalos.
The emergence of activist Juggalos was perhaps inevitable in the still mostly a-political fan base, as speaker after speaker at the rally shared stories of how the gang classification had impacted their lives, affecting custody battles and leading to harsher parole terms.
Struggalo members Kitty Stryker, Ape Munoz, Dimensions, and Rich aka Riderlo, agreed to be filmed and followed by The Daily Beast.