WASHINGTON — A legion of sad clowns is gathering, red shoes flopping and bright balloons bouncing, as they attempt to counteract a rash of scares involving their brethren across the country.
Their message: Clown Lives Matter.
“This is a peaceful way to show clowns are not psycho killers,” reads a flyer seen in Tucson, where a march of professional clowns has been planned for Oct. 15, according to ABC 15 in Arizona.
In addition to teens arrested across the county for making threats of school violence on social media accounts related to clowns, two students in Prince George’s County, Maryland, were charged after threats forced police to increase security at schools there on Monday. Threats were reported in Fairfax and Arlington counties in Virginia, as well.
In each case, police said they do not believe the threats were credible, but they caused major disruptions at the schools. Officials in Loudoun County, Virginia, were forced to reiterate there is a “no mask” law in the county — all because of the creepy-clown theme pervading the headlines.
The stories don’t just involve social media threats. Since the summer, reports of people dressed as clowns giving people the heebie-jeebies have been growing to something close to mass clown hysteria. Reports that clowns are trying to lure children into the woods in North Carolina has reportedly spread across state lines. And the stories, coupled with threats, are spreading, with reports stretching from Idaho to Connecticut, according to a timeline and map, found here.
Meanwhile, a woman in Concord, California, reported a clown approached her at a bus stop and tried to grab her 1-year-old daughter. Closer to home, a woman in Fredericksburg, Virginia, reported on Wednesday that a “clown” wearing green hair and “growling” approached and touched her arm while she was sitting in her car with the windows down on a busy street. Police are investigating.
Police have also arrested people across the country, including the Greater D.C. area, with making false reports about clown sightings.
All this has had a negative impact on the legitimate clown profession, say advocates. One clown in the D.C. area told Fox5 that it’s actually costing her business.
As for the Clown Lives Matter march in Tuscon, they aren’t clowning around. Professional clowns are asked to come in full makeup, costume and gear, according to the flyer.
“We want the public to feel safe, and not be afraid. So come out, bring the family, meet a clown and get a hug!”