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I don’t know how much of the Clownpocalypse hysteria is real versus just a media distraction from news that matter. Reason.com has a pretty good post debunking much of the hype. A lot of these incidents, like this one in Yonkers turn out to be innocent hoaxes.
In the latest spate of incidents, Sussex Police have received a report from a cyclist in Eastbourne, about a person dressed as a clown who jumped out from a bush holding what he believed to be an offensive weapon.
The man didn’t speak to him and made no attempts to harm him but was still shaken by the incident.
Police in Gloucestershire said they had received six reports of people dressed as clowns acting suspiciously, wielding knives or following members of the public. In one case a child was followed.
The warning follows an incident on Friday when a knife-wielding masked man jumped out in front of children on their way to school in Durham.
On Thursday a young boy was chased by “several people dressed as clowns” in Sudbury, Suffolk.
Tom Jackson, 18, a first year student at Leeds Beckett University, said he was “very scared” when he saw a man dressed as a clown near an underpass in Leeds in the early hours of Friday morning.
While a man dressed as a clown “wearing a hockey mask and a blood-stained poncho” was captured on camera in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, on Thursday evening.
On Wednesday a masked clown riding a mobility scooter was caught on camera in Sheffield.
There was an incident in the NYC Subway last week:
A creepy clown intimidated people on a subway in Manhattan on Wednesday before chasing a teenager out of a train station, police said.
The 16-year-old boy was getting off a subway train at the 96th Street station on Lexington Avenue around 4 p.m. when he encountered the man in a clown mask.
The clown was standing in the doorway of the train and preventing people from exiting, according to police.
Moments later, the clown started chasing the teen, who ran through a turnstile and up a flight of stairs. When he turned around, he saw the clown at the turnstile holding a kitchen knife, police said.
I could attempt to give you a complete list, but it would be out of date by tomorrow at the rate new ones are reported. That said, NPR has a pretty good overview here.
The response to the incidents are even more fascinating than the incidents themselves. Apparently a mob of students at Penn State rampaged through town looking for a mythical clown sighting.
Penn State police Sgt. Mike Nelson said that there were no real sightings of clowns known to authorities. That didn’t stop at least 500 students — Nelson’s minimum estimate — from latching onto the idea that there was one on the loose in the borough.
“Fortunately, there was no property damage, no injury and no violence,” Nelson said. “And there were no sightings.”
The rumor mill spread quickly, causing dozens of students searching for a clown to turn into hundreds. Police were inundated by phone calls about students gathering in places across the downtown area and on campus.
“The cause of this specifically was social media,” Nelson said. “If there were any clowns with this many students out there and with our police responding to calls, we would have ran into it. Some photos we’ve seen were photoshopped or incidents from across the country.”
The only real clown sighting, Nelson said, was a screen shot of a clown projected onto Beaver Hill apartments.
In Australia, a passersby jumped a man in a clown suit with a baseball bat, and beat the tar out of him. Granted, it was the middle of the night and the clown was carrying a bat, but this is over the line. The men actually turned the car around, they were never in danger. Plus the clown surrendered before being assaulted. This was not a defensible act.
This is where the situation has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. Honest clowns are feeling the stress of the hysteria as well.
NPR Did an interview with clowns who are afraid of being assaulted:
LORI HURLEY: I am Half-Pint, my husband is Oscar, and my children are Teaspoon, Little Squirt and Thumper.
HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Lori Hurley and her family are professional clowns in St. Paul, Minn.
HURLEY: Because I’m a clown, I can see the bright side and the humor in anything. But there is a real problem when people can’t distinguish the difference between the real clowns and people who dress up as clowns with the intent to scare.
HOROWITZ-GHAZI: She says business is down around 20 percent since the sightings started.
HURLEY: And when we have people call and cancel bookings, it hurts my family. When I’m driving down the road as a clown and people are looking at me like I’m that bad, evil, scary clown and they’ve just heard on the radio how they should take matters into their own hands, suddenly my safety is jeopardized, as is my children.
HOROWITZ-GHAZI: Hurley recently came across a photo circulating on social media of a fake clown hunting permit which reads, also valid for al-Qaida, Taliban and Boko Haram.
HURLEY: When you start putting clowns up there with terrorists, then I think people need to take a step back and ask themselves, yeah, maybe it was funny in thought, but is it really funny? Because underneath the makeup – for the real clowns – are real people with real families, with real jobs.
And if that isn’t ridiculous enough, there is now a Clown Lives Matter Facebook Page, and there is a group planning a Clown Lives Matter March.
Organizers are planning a “Clown Lives Matter” march for October 15 in Tucson in reaction to the recent spate of frightening incidents — both real and imagined — spread in the news and on social media.
The march will be at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15 on 4th Avenue in Tucson. Attendees are invited to show up wearing full clown makeup or masks.
According to a flyer advertising the event, “this is a peaceful way to show clowns are not psycho killers. We want the public to feel safe, and not be afraid. So come out, bring the family, meet a clown and get a hug!”
Sweet Meteor of Death, please save us.