Because 2016 wasn’t weird, horrible, and stressful enough, God (Fate, Odin, whomever or whatever you believe in) decided to add clowns randomly all across the US and the UK, just to see if we’re paying attention. And no, we aren’t even counting the clowns in the US election; that’s a different horrible stressful thing. So if you have no idea what’s up with all the clowns, well, the honest truth is that no one else does either, but here are 25 Creepy Clown Crime Facts You’ll Want To Know to give us all some idea of what’s going on.
Topic suggested by youtuber Steven Costello
This first Clown was sighted in Greenville, SC in August of 2016 by a little boy at an apartment complex. He saw two clowns in the woods, brightly dressed with painted faces. According to the boy's mother, they were trying to lure him to a boarded up house nearby.
Schools have taken and are taking this very seriously. While so far it seems that it's just a bunch of creepy people freaking everyone out for kicks and giggles, a Connecticut school district banned clown costumes and listed them as "symbols of terror" in early October. A (false) report of an armed clown also put a Massachusetts college on temporary lock-down, warnings have been sent home to parents, and even shirts and notebooks with pictures of clowns have been prohibited. That'll be a damper in art class...
The first iteration of the clown as we know it - frilly collar, exaggerated face paint, etc - was Joseph Grimaldi who was born in the late 1700's. He often told people he was "Grim all day." His father was a performer in London, and Grimaldi himself was a performer his whole life.
In mid-September, 2016, Flomoaton, Alabama, had a scare with Facebook page belonging to a "Flomo Klown" (picturing a sinister looking clown dripping in blood) that caused several schools to go on lockdown. This was due to the page posting vague threats like, "It's going down tonight!" with handgun and laughing emojis. Police traced the Facebook back to a (very stupid) 22 year old woman who was arrested and charged with making Terrorist Threats.
In September, police arrested a 20-year-old man in Kentucky "dressed as a clown lurking in a wooded area" in a small town. The man was charged with wearing a mask in public and disorderly conduct. He was literally "Crouching among trees by an apartment complex." This was his idea of a good time. You can't do that; it's not safe, and if you DO decide to actually harm someone as opposed to just being "creepy as anything," police can't identify you.
According to Benjamin Radford, an expert in folklore and author of a book titled "Bad Clowns," even when this all dies down, the clowns and the panic will come back, even if it takes a few years. They're kind of the boogie man of Western Culture. Comforting.
Alabama has had nine arrests - NINE! - made in relation to Clowns and Clown threats. Both adults and juveniles were arrested, and the charges largely subsist of Terrorist Threats and Harassment. Pro Tip: You can't talk about shooting up schools on Facebook, even if you're dense enough to say, 'It's just a joke, bro!" We take that pretty seriously; there are laws against it. Um, duh?
Nice clowns (yes, there is such a thing!) and professional clown performers are mad, scared, and their businesses are being hurt. Even if you don't like normal nice clowns, there are people that do, and there are many good, hard working people who perform as clowns and just want to make others smile. Creepy dunderheads are hurting their jobs.
In early November, a woman in the UK heard a noise outside, opened the door, saw a creepy clown, closed the door, and the clown stuck a knife through the mail slot and stabbed her in the leg. Yup. Apparently the US isn't the only country dealing with clown issues, but the UK clowns seem to be somewhat more violent.
Some of the clown sightings are believed to be viral marketing - either for horror movies or local haunted houses which seem to pop up all over the US starting in Mid-September almost every year. Once the first few sightings happened, many that followed were surely copy cats. Or, you know, the Illuminati is really made up of clowns.
So far, over 20 states have reported clown sightings, threats, and generally unexpected creepiness and unexpected clown related drama. Nearly half the states in the US have creepy clowns.
Some clowns sightings in the US have gone beyond stupid people scaring kids and posting very stupid things on social media. A clown carrying a machete tried to lure a woman in the woods in Forsyth County, SC. No one should try to lure women into the woods, but if that's your aim, is holding a machete really...the approach you're going to go with?
Some people have drawn parallels between the Clown Sightings and Slenderman, suggesting that the sightings are a sort of weird alternative reality game, but there's zero evidence for this. In fact, there's ZERO known connection (aside from panic and media reporting) between any of the clown sightings.
While the overwhelming amount of Clown Sightings have been in Southeastern US states and up the East Coast, there have also been reports in New Mexico, Oregon, and in California a woman called police after a clown tried to grab her 1-year-old child out of her arms at a bus stop.
In 1981, there was a wave of Clown Sightings across Boston. In April, a memo was sent home to parents about men dressed as clowns bothering children at several local schools. Police were alerted to clowns at a local park trying to lure children into vans with candy, including one that was unclothed from the waist down. In mid-May, police went over all the reports from area cities and realized that no adults ever saw the clowns, only children aged 5-7. Either the kids were messing with police, or there was a clown or supernatural entity with a very specific age range.
In October, a 16 year old girl in the Philippines claimed she was stalked by a clown with a chainsaw on her way home from a volleyball game in Vigan City. When the victim fell down and screamed, the clown got into a black car and fled. Nowhere is safe from people with poor and warped senses of humor, apparently.
Since this isn't the first time Creepy Clowns have made headlines in the US, and due to the weird boogyman place that some clowns occupy in culture, cryptozoologist Loren Coleman has coined the phrase "Phantom Clown Theory" which basically places the blame for all the "sightings" to a form of mass hysteria. There are far more sightings and reports than there are photos and arrests at this point, even with some states having clown arrests in the double digits. (FYI, cryptozoologists study the cultural phenomenon behind such things as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. So now you have a new thing you want to be when you grow up.)
In the 1970's, infamous Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy used to moonlight as a clown named Pogo. An actual Killer Clown, except he didn't even dress up when he was murdering people. He was also an artist. Many of his paintings featured clowns, skulls, and assorted sexual body parts.
Many McDonald's in areas that had clown sightings canceled appearances of Ronald McDonald, and some Target stores pulled clown costumes from shelves.
Do we even know, honestly, why we're afraid of clowns? If your first answer was "Pennywise," well, that's a valid option. But a Canadian psychologist named Rami Nader who studies the irrational fear of clowns (called coulrophobia) believes that Clown's makeup and disguises hide their real identities and feelings, and that makes us instinctively uneasy.
Batman will save us! In the UK, in a city called Cumbria, a man dressed as Batman has been patrolling the streets so that children know there is nothing to fear, and they are safe to go about and play. There have been over 100 clown sightings reported in the UK. Let's just all be the Batman somebody needs to feel safe today, okay kids?
In Kemper County, Mississippi, a special county ordnance forbade dressing like a clown through November 1st, keeping the clowns at bay through Halloween. The punishment for dressing like a clown was a $150 fine, and the Sheriffs stated they would be upholding the ordnance.
Many schools, public places, festivals, and Halloween themed events banned clown costumes and scary clown costumes for Halloween because they weren't able to be sure the people dressed up as scary clowns were trying to be creepy and scare people for Halloween, or if the people dressed up as scary clowns were using Halloween as an excuse to be creepy and scare people.
There were many rumors of a clown driven purge-type situation before Halloween. This warning - "WARNING clowns are allegedly planning their own purge the night before Halloween. Stay inside, keep all pets inside and keep all doors and windows locked. Share this post with your family and friends!" was posted on a Facebook page titled "Clown Hunters." Thus the rumor started and the flames were fanned. (Just to clarify, no Clown Purge happened.)
The good news is, the creepy clown weirdness has probably already reached it's peak and is almost over, after several arrests and generally having everyone feel uncomfortable looking into the woods for a bit.
Photos: 25. Stephen Brace via Flickr, 24. ajarl via Flickr, 23. Public Domain (published before 1923) via commons.wikimedia, 22. Prescotte Stokes III via al.com (fair use: educational/demonstrative purposes only), 21. Middlesboro Police Dept via bbc.com (fair use: educational/demonstrative purposes only), 20. PeteLinforth via pixabay, 19. Circle Denyer via publicdomainpictures.net, 18. Alexas_fotos via pixabay, 17. Graeme Maclean via Flickr, 16. werner22brigitte via pixabay, 15. clker-free-vector-images via pixabay, 14. Argonz via Flickr, 13. LuxAmber via commons.wikimedia, 12. Randy Chiu via Flickr, 11. durdaneta via Flickr, 10. wassertraeger via commons.wikimedia, 9. gratisography.com/pexels, 8. The Orchid Club via Flickr, 7. Eric Norris via Flickr, 6.Circle Denyer via publicdomainpictures.net, 5. Public domain (published between 1923-1977 without copyright notice), 4. Grey Knight via en.wikipedia, 3. gratisography.com via pexels, 2. tinyography via pexels, 1. skeeze via pixabay