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The National Mall might be my favorite place in the world. As a fan of American History, it’s always felt like an adult playground to me. A DeLorean that allows me to travel to different places and times in America’s history. I’ve been to my fair share of rallies and marches there, but never have I felt so connected to the ideals of our nation’s great thinkers and leaders as I did on Saturday for the Juggalo March on Washington, to raise awareness about the FBI classifying fans of the Insane Clown Posse as a gang.
America is the nation where we can be who we want to be. We can create our own identity. And we can speak up, make our voices heard, fight for our ideals. I saw all of that on display in the truest, rawest form at the Juggalo March.
The weather was incredible. A touch of that humidity which is inescapable in our nation’s capital, but not too hot, definitely not too cold, no significant precipitation, ample sunlight, followed by nice breaks of cloud cover. The weather march organizers dream of.
And it wasn’t just the weather that was beautiful, it was the buzz of participation that made the day gorgeous. Juggalos often are on the fringes of society. They aren’t the prom kings turned fraternity brothers turned Chamber of Commerce members that litter the District of Columbia. Virtually all of the Juggalos I met had never even been to a political rally before. I don’t think I was alone in feeling pre-march jitters as we all gathered by the reflecting pool. Not bad jitters – instantly upon arrival all my fears of violence dissipated – just an incredible excitement for how the day might unfold.
The crowd was there to prove that Juggalos weren’t a gang. Not to fight. No to get fucked up. Not to bring any ruckus. Everyone I spoke to left their booze and weed at home. One guy even proudly spoke of how he convinced a buddy to leave his knife at home. No side-pieces necessary for this political march.
Kevin Gill, the voice of Juggalo Championship Wrestling, gave the opening words and set the vibe. It was gonna be fun. But it wasn’t going to skirt around any of the serious issues. After Kevin came Juggalo testimonials. Heart-wrenching stories of children taken away by the state because CPS found out the parents listened to Insane Clown Posse. Members of the military who were punished by their superiors for having ICP tattoos. Former felons who were turning their life around only to be punished by their probation officers for liking the wrong music. I was crying for a good portion of those speeches. I looked around and others were crying too. I’m tearing up as I write this. It reminded all of us why we trekked to DC. Why we were marching.
One of my personal favorite moments came during Community Organizer and Juggalo Solana Ramos’ speech. At one point, she declared “Black Lives Matter,” in response, a crowd-member shouted “Juggalo Lives Matter.” Ms. Ramos, a person of color, calmly replied with some version of, “I don’t like it when you say that. I feel like it appropriates another struggle. I’d love to talk more about that with you later.” And considering how many signs read “Juggalo Lives Matter” I expected a series of boos. Yet all I saw was a crowd nodding. It’s 2017 and Juggalos are woke as fuck.
Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J from the Insane Clown Posse gave humorous speeches – the exact send off we needed prior to marching. We sauntered sauntered through mall, past the White House’s South Portico on Constitution Ave., then looped around the Washington Monument and landed back at the Lincoln.
Post-march I was lucky enough to chat with Camille Dodero who’s famous Village Voice cover story on the Gathering of the Juggalos birthed the genre known as “Juggalo Journalism.” She is fucking amazing. I also got to meet Nathan Rabin, the author of You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me. Nathan purposefully rocked a Phish shirt for the event. I fanboy-ed out a bit when I spoke to him. He’s essentially the reason I was at the rally in the first place. I hugged him. Then thanked him for being amazing. And then begged him for a selfie. He kindly obliged.
I could probably go on for days mentioning all the people I met, all the warmth I felt, all the hugs I gave. But you probably don’t want to read that. So trust me, everything you’ve heard about Juggalos is probably wrong. Unless you heard they weren’t a gang. Because they’re a wacky bunch of misfits. But definitely not a gang.