What's different about this year's Gathering of the Juggalos in Thornville, Ohio? Well, the cops for one thing.
During last year's coverage of the event, set in Cave-In-Rock, Illinois, we encountered minimal security. The gatekeepers and patrol staff, which were seemingly just exceptionally large juggalos in "SECURITY" shirts, peered into backpacks to eliminate glass bottles and fireworks. Aside from that, they pretty much did nothing except hang out and then -- only after someone died of a drug overdose -- reactively shut down the Gathering's infamous drug bridge.
This year, however, we encountered a different scenario. While there remains a stock amount of bleary-eyed "security" volunteers to direct traffic (both vehicular and human), there were absolutely no searches. We just walked right through the front entrance, past a Deadhead-looking fellow with a beard, and straight into a clown-themed metropolis of chaos with nary a single question -- or even a glance. Predictably, glass bottles and fireworks abound.
Yet, this year's security force is a departure from the past in that it includes a small armada of uniformed police officers on golf carts loudly labeled "SHERIFF."
Understandably, the presence of police this year has created apprehension within the juggalo community. In the months leading up to this year's Gathering, many ICP fans took to message boards and Twitter to voice concern about the anticipated police presence. In response, the official website for the Gathering of the Juggalos provided a preemptive and reassuring statement from Psychopathic Records co-owner, Robert "Jumpsteady" Bruce. In part:
Now I am not sure if ninjas new to the scene realize this, but there have been more than a few Gatherings that have had a sheriff's presence before. In fact, the Gathering of the Juggalos at Frontier Ranch back in 2006 had the exact same sheriff's department on the grounds that will be at this year's Gathering. I have recently talked to the colonel of the sheriff's department and he told me he is not expecting any problems at the Gathering this year because he had none back in 2006. He fully understands that juggalos are coming to have fun and his people are not there to arbitrarily give ninjas the bone.
Despite those assurances, those planning to attend the Gathering remained leery. An entire forum post on juggalo website Faygoluvers.net remains dedicated to the subject, and its most recent posts lament the experience of Twitter user/lady juggalo @Dani2Dope77, who reported that she had her phone broken as cops searched her car somewhere in Ohio while en route to the Gathering -- though it should be noted that the search was not conducted by the same police force that is on the grounds this year.
Curious about the realities of the situation, we decided to go straight to the police themselves once we landed at the Gathering.
Story continues on the next page.
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