(Reuters) - Hip hop duo Insane Clown Posse and the ACLU filed legal papers on Tuesday seeking to stop federal law enforcement authorities from categorizing their face-painted fan base known as the "Juggalos" as a criminal gang.
The duo and the American Civil Liberties Union intend to ask the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the decision of a lower court in late June that blocked them from challenging the FBI's designation of the Juggalos as a gang with criminal intent.
"The only way to remedy this injustice for all innocent Juggalos is to start with the root of the problem – the FBI’s arbitrary and erroneous branding of hundreds of thousands of music fans as gang members," said Michael Steinberg, an ACLU lawyer.
The Justice Department was not immediately available for comment.
The Michigan-based Insane Clown Posse paint their faces to look like clowns and are known for rebellious and provocative music that includes songs such "My Axe" and "Night of the Chainsaw" that often use harsh themes and language.
The Juggalos, who the group says are about a million strong, paint their faces to look like clowns and display a logo of a hatchet man on their clothes and jewelry.
A federal National Gang Threat Assessment in 2011 said a small number of Juggalos were forming more organized subsets and engaging in gang-like criminal activity, such as felony assaults, thefts, robberies and drug sales.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Peter Cooney)