Creepy Clowns: a Pop Culture Thing or Criminal Thing?

Meghan Koerick, Staff Reporter

In many states there have been reports of clowns trying to lure children into the woods with candy.  In some cases, people dressed as clowns have been lurking or just standing around public places after dark.  A few have been photographed brandishing weapons, some have been reported acting in a threatening way.

The most recent  sightings were in Greenville County, South Carolina when there were multiple reports of children seeing creepy clowns at the edges of woods and now they are knocking at the doors of homes. It began with six similar incidents in  the area.

One case was in Virginia when a mother spotted a creepy clown leering at them from another car during rush hour. It matches the description of another creepy clown incident in Augusta County, Virginia. A father fishing with his two children also reported a sighting at a lake.

Two children in Winston-Salem, North Carolina got offered treats of candy if they would come into the woods but the police reported no evidence of clowns. A caller also reported clowns about two miles away four hours later.

Another case earlier this year was reported in Columbus, Ohio. According to WND the boy says that he fended off the clown who was chasing him with a knife by throwing a rock at him while he was at the bus stop.

A photo went viral earlier this year of a clown holding black balloons but the whole thing turned out to be a marketing ploy for an independent film. The whole clown act could be just a marketing ploy, or bored Juggalos.

According to WTSP local news, video was released from Pasco County, Florida, of a masked clown figure at Sims park, the police are investigating if it was real or not.

The clown epidemic has even come to northern New York. In Syracuse clowns wearing frightening masks chased after a boy walking home from school in the afternoon. According to NY Upstate news there has been sightings in Troy, Schenectady and Utica Areas.

Many of the sightings have been difficult or impossible to verify, and some have existed solely in the public imagination–or in one case, as a wild excuse by someone who was late to work.  Urban legends passed on as immediate by social media users have in some cases only existed online, with no real danger posed to anyone.

Yet this whole clown epidemic is scaring not only children but also the parents. Many adults are scared about the well-being of their children and are saying the police have to do something to stop this from happening.

While dressing as a clown and appearing in public is not a crime, when such persons are engaged in aggressive behavior, they can be charged with trespassing, creating a public disturbance, menacing or threatening, and unlawful weapons possession.

Of course in America it’s not just the clowns who may be armed.  At least one social media meme has proposed “clown hunting.”