Monday, November 26, 2012

"Clown" Crimes Rampant This Fall: More than a dozen masked culprits arrested or sought by police in past two months

There've been a maelstrom of nefarious clown activities featured prominently in the media recently, so much so that I should really be updating this blog more often than every six or eight weeks. It helps that, as noted in past research on coulrophobia, media outlets are instinctively drawn to prominently featuring "clown" in headlines whenever there is any kind of criminal activity by anyone who at any time worked as a clown.  The underlying meme of the "evil clown" has become so culturally pervasive that the very idea of anyone associated with clowning engaging in questionable or bizarre activity is alluring in ways not seen with most occupations.

In fact, sometimes the media cannot resist even when the clown isn't even really a clown, as in this incident from Massachusetts last month, where CBS and several other sources blared about a "Naked Clown" leaping into a truck at a rest stop to proposition the trucker for sex, then go on to acknowledge that the acccused in fact just works as a delivery person for a party supply company.  Upon further investigation, sources disclose that the man had occasionally appeared at past functions as costumed characters, such as Elvis and Uncle Sam, then cling anew to the clown label based on the discovery that he dressed as a clown once in a parade.

The same week, four young men more clearly intending to appear clownish robbed and assaulted a 19 year old in Stroudsberg, Maine.  The four, dressed in clown makeup, took the stranger's wallet and then pummeled him, after which he escaped to a nearby McDonald's to call police.

That last week of October saw the beginning of an overall spike in clown crime coverage.  Take, for example, this incident from Wisconsin where a former Director of Clowns formerly with the Tripoli Shrine Center fired on police during a one hour standoff at his Waukeesha residence.

The late October/early November period saw even more clown-masked banditry, from a home invasion in Pittsburgh to a robbery in Manchester, UK by three clown garbed rogues caught on video.  Meanwhile, Toronto police continue to hunt a robber they have dubbed Krusty the Clown Bandit. On Nov. 3, a man in a particularly creepy clown mask robbed a Carl Jr.'s fast food restaurant in Surprise, AZ.  The torrent of costumed crime has continued throughout this month, from a misguided Boulder college student who was arrested while wearing a Joker mask to a movie theatre in a state still traumatized by the brutal theatre shooting during the release of the most recent Batman film, a clown bandit who robbed a gas station in Oklahoma while another heisted a laundromat in Springfield, Mass. the same day... and then, a putrid fiend in a Pennywise mask who sexually assaulted a woman in Brooklyn at knife point.

Vlad Evanick, evil clown drummer

 The most serious of coulrophobia-inducing news lately, though, was an evil-clown metal performer in Illinois arrested on child pornography charges.  "Police say Martin "Vlad" Evanick -- who regularly dons a creepy clown outfit and plays drums in an Illinois metal band -- was charged for allegedly producing and sharing child pornography for more than two years."              
Amidst the glut of clown crime stories this fall, one story of particular interest nearly slipped through the cracks: the inexplicable wave of rumors of a clown committing crimes which swept Kingsley, Iowa in mid-September.  Curiously, Police Chief Dave Kremer said that while these rumors, attributed in part to Facebook, had been running rampant for days there, no actual sighting or report of a clown doing anything untoward had come in to police, only vague rumors.  This occurrence is enough to raise an eyebrow with anyone aware of the Phantom Clown phenomenon, a rampant but strangely obscure trend which has plagued cities and towns across the world for several decades.  In phantom clown "flaps" (as termed to denote a sudden wave), rumors about a dangerous clown or clowns run rampant in a community for days, spreading inexplicably and often without media coverage to aid their circulation.  While some 20 known cities have experienced one of these bizarre waves or flaps, no individual has ever been arrested in connection with the rumored incidents, and the apparent mass hysteria has never been properly explained.  

Finally, just for laughs, this video of a police officer wrestling down an errant activist clown who had been blasting passing cars with a squirt gun in Milwaukee, Wisconsin last week has gone mildly viral.  Says the young man who captured it on his iPhone: "What's going through my head is 'A cop is beating up a clown.  Like, how could I not capture this on video and show it to all my friends?' "