In the past year, there have been steadily increasing sightings of menacing clowns on the loose, terrifying children and adults alike. No, really- I couldn’t make this stuff up. Often armed, usually masked clowns of varying descriptions have been filmed trying to lure children out of their homes, approaching pedestrians threateningly, or simply standing on the stoop of a random house for extended periods of time. The footage is unsettling, but a personal encounter is downright terrifying, as one of the AMS Law Group’s staff, (who asked to remain unnamed,) recently shared with me:
“It was last Halloween, (2015) early in the morning, and I was jogging around White Rock Lake. Well, as I rounded a corner, I could see this joker in the distance. So I slow it down to a power walk,” she laughed. “And another jogger caught up to me, and both she and I are looking at this guy, and looking at each other like, ‘Do you see what I see?’, well we keep going, & I get out my pepper spray, because it’s just us two girls, in a secluded part of the park, with Giggles, here, obviously waiting for us on the trail, all facepainted up. He stepped in our path to block the way when we got close, and said in this low gravelly voice, ‘Happy Halloween, ladies…!’ It was really, really creepy! I mean, intense!”
Clown imagery being used to inspire chills instead of joy is nothing new. Pennywise from Steven King’s IT, the comedy-horror classic The Killer Clowns From Outer Space, the Insane Clown Posse, Batman’s nemesis The Joker, and many others real and fictional have played off of the exaggerated features and contrasting colors of clowns to unsettle the public over the years. What is new, however, is the spread of individuals using greasepaint and masks for anonymity while they terrorize & threaten others, in person, seemingly at random. Fort Worth, Irving, Richardson, Plano, and Garland have all had recent reports of disturbing, aggressive individual encounters or online threats from clowns.
The phenomenon is not limited to Dallas, with clown sightings popping up across the nation’s south and up the east coast. Occurrences have taken many different forms, from posts on social media from pixilated pranksters threatening children and teachers, (resulting in multiple school closings in multiple districts,) to armed robbers wearing clown masks, to small gangs of costumed creeps armed with hammers, bats & blades, to a troupe of three jesters which surprised a twelve year old boy and his little brother when they emerged from the woods near their bus stop in New Jersey. The brothers were chased for some blocks. According to the New York Times, by September 30 of this year, 12 different individuals over 10 states have been arrested in conjunction with these creepy clown antics. It’s even gone global, with sightings sweeping the UK and creepy clown social media profiles based out of Australia. But the DFW metro has had a particularly high concentration of creepy clown sightings.
What kind of reaction do these sightings inspire?
“We both screamed, and then I maced him in the face,” said our team member with a shrug. “He hit the ground while the other jogger and me ran like hell. We could hear him behind us on the ground, crying, ‘It was just a joke!’ We found a police officer about a quarter mile up the trail, and let them take it from there. Looking back on it, it’s funny, you know? I really don’t think he meant any harm, just a dumb teenager making dumb teenage mistakes. But that’s what you get.” I think most people would agree.
What that means for you- our reasonable, rational, right-thinking reader- is that this Halloween, clown jester joker mime and harlequin costumes should all be passed over. It’s too likely that you’ll give others a real scare, and that they’ll defend themselves- and for many Texans, that means shots fired. For your own safety and for the common good, pick a different costume. You’re opening yourself up to a whole new world of liability and personal danger by going as a clown. Even if your costume is lighthearted and not the least bit frightening in the clear light of day, distance, shadows, and fear can work together too easily for you to avoid being at risk, no matter how cheerful your costume or how positive your intentions are.
Now, some people are sure to become swept up in the forbidden appeal, and give in to the taboo urge to don the make up, the big squeaky shoes, the tutu & the wig, and wander the streets at night just to see what kind of encounters they have, or cling to the back of a moving bus for attention & the fun of doing something they’ve been warned against. We sympathize. There is a time and place for everything. This year, however, if you dress as a clown around Dallas, the joke could well be on you. A few bozos have spoiled the fun for the rest of us.
If you or yours have become entangled in creepy clown craze crime, you may find that The AMS Law Group is the best law practice to consult about how to bring some reason to the madness.
-written by D.M. Eaton