'Juggalos', Trump supporters converge on Washington for dueling rallies

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS News) -- The National Mall has played host to rallies and protests of all sizes, scope and aims through the years, but Saturday it will witness a convergence of groups most likely unique in the park's history.

Thousands of so-called Juggalos -- fans of "horrorcore" hip hop duo Insane Clown Posse who are known for the face paint they wear to match the band's "dark carnival" aesthetic -- are set to march this afternoon, as part of a long-planned protest against what they say is discriminatory treatment by law enforcement.

Scheduled more recently, and set to begin just a few hours before, a crowd marked by the red "Make America Great Again" caps ubiquitous among supporters of President Trump will rally in favor of the administration's policy agenda.

Though the "Juggalo March on Washington" and the pro-Trump "Mother of All Rallies" are on the same day, and at the same place, their aims couldn't be more different

The Trump supporters say their event aims to boost the president's "America First" agenda, which they say will protect "traditional American culture." The Juggalos, far from traditional, say they have been discriminated against and targeted for their support of the Insane Clown Posse, whose lyrics are marked by violent imagery, and whose logo is a man holding a hatchet.

In 2011, the FBI's 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment listed the group as a "loosely-organized hybrid gang," an unusual designation the agency hasn't since used. Though the group wasn't listed in the next two FBI assessments, released in 2013 and 2015, the band says "hybrid gang" designation caused myriad legal, professional and personal problems for hundreds of fans.

Organizers of the two rallies have regarded each other warily against the backdrop of last month's deadly protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

At that event, white supremacists bearing Confederate battle flags sparked violence as they protested the city's decision to remove Confederate monuments and memorials from public spaces. Dozens were injured in clashes throughout the day, punctuated by a deadly car attack -- labeled domestic terrorism by Attorney General Jeff Sessions -- that left one dead and 19 injured.

A Mother of All Rallies organizer told CBS News that the group will ask any attendees with Confederate flags, Nazi symbols or hateful signs to leave, or put paraphernalia back in their cars. But Juggalo organizers remain on edge about their proximity to the competing rally, said Farris Haddad, an attorney for Insane Clown Posse who was involved in planning the Juggalo March.

"We're concerned for the safety of the Juggalos. The last thing we want is any kind of clashes or violence. We're just here for a peaceful march," said Haddad, known as the "Juggalawyer" to fans of the group, whose music includes anti-bigotry lyrics and a 1992 song called "Rebel Flag" that's critical of Confederate ideology.

"After Charlottesville, we were like, 'Holy (expletive), this could be a problem,'" Haddad said. "[Insane Clown Posse] throws events and concerts every year, and there are never any major issues with violence."

The Mother of All Rallies organizer told CBS News that two rallies had been in touch and agreed to be "allies," but Haddad adamantly denied that claim. He said the two groups only conversed on one occasion, when the Juggalos declined an invitation to work together.

The pro-Trump rally is set to commence at 11 a.m., and will feature a series of speeches by prominent members of the alt-right movement. Though organizers initially said they hoped to draw "one million patriots," about 10,000 people have expressed interest in the event on the group's Facebook page, and organizers now say they expect fewer than that number to attend.

A few thousand Juggalos are expected to attend their event, which is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. The event will include musical performances and speeches by people who say the FBI's gang designation caused issues ranging from the loss of employment and being listed in local gang databases, to targeting by child protective services and even the revocation of probation.

 

This article originally posted on CBSNews.com


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