By Steve Neavling
A clown hysteria has swept across social media and is now prompting law enforcement to take some drastic – and potentially unconstitutional – measures.
The panic appeared to start in August in Greenville, S.C., where clowns were reportedly luring children into the woods.
“From there, it ballooned into reports of people in clown costumes lurking in parks, assaulting people, chasing people and even threatening to kill people,” reports Network World, which chronicled law enforcement actions in light of the hysteria.
A sheriff in Kentucky has asked the FBI and Homeland Security to help investigate a “creepy clown” threat. The sheriff in Gallatin County even warned that “clown threats” may face charges of “inducing panic and terroristic threatening.”
This week, Gallatin County Kentucky Schools said it received a “vague threat of violence” from two “clowns” who threaten to shoot high school students. As a result, school attendance plummeted 48%.
Network World wrote that most of the clown reports are rumors or pranks.
Gallatin County Sheriff Josh Neale told people to forward threatening messages from clowns to the police, who were “aggressively looking into each and every message.” Neale said he was consulting with the FBI and Homeland Security over the clown threats. He added, “The person or people making the ‘clown threats’ could face local charges of inducing panic and terroristic threatening.”
Other police have also addressed the clown threat after it was going viral in social media. Wearing a “full clown costume” in public got one man arrested in Kentucky. He was charged with “wearing a mask in a public place and disorderly conduct.” He’s notthe only “clown” who has been arrested.
Kentucky’s Barbourville Police warned that dressing like a clown “can create a dangerous situation.” While “approaching people in a threatening manner” is illegal, so too is “assaulting, shooting, attacking or otherwise injuring someone simple because they are wearing a costume.”