Creepy Clown Sightings
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Creepy Clown Sightings refer to reports of people dressed as clowns attempting to lure kids into the woods in various locations in the United States. After police began receiving the reports in North and South Carolina in late August 2016, many internet users speculated the sightings were a viral marketing campaign for the upcoming 2017 remake of the 1986 horror film It.
In late August 2016, rumors began circulating that clowns were attempting to lure children in the woods behind an apartment complex in Greenville, South Carolina, leading to increased police patrols in the area. One woman claimed her son had seen clowns in the woods, who whispered and flashed green laser lights before running off. According to another report, a group of children claimed they were approached by clowns who tried to bring them into the woods by showing large amounts of money. In a letter to the residents of the building, the property manager stated that children should not be allowed to wander unsupervised at night (shown below).
The Staten Island Clown is a nickname given to a mysterious individual who gained online notoriety for his lurking presence around the streets of Staten Island, New York at night, which became a subject of interest for local news outlets and the New York City blogosphere after its first reported sighting In March 2014.
On September 1st, 2016, Greenville, South Carolina Police Chief Ken Miller announced that people warning clown costumes and scaring locals would be arrested:
"The clowning around needs to stop. It's illegal, it's dangerous, it's inappropriate, it's creating community concern."
On September 5th, the North Carolina news station WXII 12 aired a segment about clown sightings near a wooded area in Winston-Salem (shown below).
On September 7th, the Cleveland County Sheriff's Office in North Carolina published a Facebook post reporting that two clown sightings had been "investigated and found to be false" (shown below).
That day, the distributor of director Rob Zombie's upcoming clown-themed horror film 31 claimed that the film was not involved in the "creepy clowns and costumed characters found roaming the South." On September 8th, several posts about the clown sightings were submitted to the /r/OutOfTheLoop subreddit, where many speculated that the reports were part of a viral marketing campaign for the upcoming horror film It.
On September 22nd, 2016, Facebook user Caden Munro Parmelee posted a video of a clown standing on the side of the road at night, claiming he came across the costumed figure while driving (shown below). Within one week, the video gained over 1.1 million views, 20,500 shares and 30 comments.
On September 23rd, 2016, police in Middlesboro, Kentucky arrested 20-year-old Jonathan Martin, who was found crouching by trees near an apartment complex. Martin was charged with wearing a mask in a public place and disorderly conduct.
That evening, reporter Phil Pendleton for the local news station WKYT posted a photograph of Martin in cuffs while wearing his costume along with a photograph with his mask removed (shown below). Meanwhile, Redditor Petty-officer4 submitted a post about the incident to /r/news. In the coming days, several news sites published articles about the arrest, including BBC, Jezebel and Paper Mag.
On September 25th, reporter Channing Frampton of the local news station WHSV tweeted video of a clown spotted in Waynesboro, Virginia (shown below).
Creepy #clowns reported in Augusta Co. and Waynesboro, Va. Authorities respond: https://t.co/IO3koEZwiC pic.twitter.com/E9F62uYNid— Channing Frampton (@WHSVChanning) September 26, 2016
On September 27th, a woman in Henrico County, Virginia shared a video with local news station CBS 6 of a clown waving to her and her daughter from a passing car (shown below).
New York and New Jersey Sightings
In late September several clowns were sighted in New Jersey, where one report claimed a man in a jester suit chased a child with a sword. In early October, the NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller announced that there had been threats made over social media about the clowns, none of which were deemed credible.
Chase Prior's Video
On October 1st, 2016, photographer Chase Prior posted a video in which he encounters a clown wielding a knife while on a run with friend Patrick Williams in Newmark, Ohio (shown below). Within 72 hours, the video gained over 21 million views, 392,000 shares and 100,000 reactions.
"What the fuck are you doing man? It’s 7.30am in the morning, have you heard about all this shit? People are freaking out about this."
On October 3rd, Twitter user @ChaseBrunner tweeted the hashtag "#IfISeeAClown" along with a joke about Harambe the gorilla (shown below). Within 24 hours, the tweet gained over 1,100 likes and 500 retweets.
That day, many other Twitter users began posting jokes about how they would react to seeing a clown along with the #IfISeeAClown hashtag (shown below). Also on October 3rd, UpRoxx published an article about the trending hashtag, highlighting several notable example tweets.
United Kingdom Sightings
In early October, a man wearing a clown mask and wielding a knife jumped out in front of a group of children in County Durham, England. Meanwhile, several "killer clowns" were spotted in various towns in Northern Ireland. On October 10th, the United Kingdom North Antrim MLA Robin Swann issued a statement about the sightings:
"Give whatever assistance they can to the police in helping to stamp out the potentially fatal so-called 'killer clown craze' which has gripped the province ahead of the Halloween break. I issue a plea to young people who may be considering taking part in the pathetic 'killer clown craze' which is now sweeping Northern Ireland – please think twice before someone is either seriously hurt or dies.
On October 6th, Twitter user @EmansBlogs uploaded footage of a clown scary pedestrians on a sidewalk in the United Kingdom (shown below).
Fam these clowns are in the UK pic.twitter.com/oSuQCoWtsb— Eman Kellam (@EmansBlogs) October 6, 2016
On October 11th, Twitter user @laurabarr38 posted a picture of a man dressed in a Batman costume chasing clowns around the town of Cumbria, England (shown below).
On October 13th, the Cumbria Superheroes Facebook page uploaded a video of the man in the Batman costume, who assured children who were scared of the clowns that they "didn't need to worry anymore, Batman is taking care of it" (shown below).
Also in October 2016, Swedish residents began reporting sighting of clowns scaring children across the country. On October 13th, Swedish police launched a manhunt for a clown who stabbed a 19-year-old in the town of Varberg. In a statement delivered to the press, spokesman Ulla Brehm addressed whether the stabbing was related to the clown sightings in the United States:
"It's hard to say if this is something that has to do with the trend that has come from the US, but there was a clown mask on the site."
Meanwhile, Swedish Interior Minister Anders Ygeman called for residents to remain calm in the wake of the sightings:
"We don't want to see a situation where a person gets into real trouble because someone, perhaps half joking, puts on a clown mask."
Clown Lives Matter
In early October, Nicole Sinn, a 27-year-old caregiver who works part-time as a makeup artist, started a Facebook event page for a "Clown Lives Matter" peace walk in an effort to restore the public image of the clown community, set to take place in downtown Tucson, Arizona on October 15th. In the following days, over a hundred people, including many professional clowns, signed up for the march.
As the announcement of the pro-clown event began circulating major online news sites, many activists affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement criticized the choice of the name for the event, which amounted to an influx of hostile and threatening messages on the Facebook event page. On October 13th, Sinn announced that the march has been cancelled due to concerns of public safety in connection to numerous reports of death threats and online harassment from some of the attendees.
Germany's "Zero Tolerance" Policy
On October 21st, police announced they received reports of men in a clown costumes attacking random pedestrians with baseball bats and chain saws. On October 26th, two teenagers were attacked by a man in a clown mask, who jumped out of a bush with a chainsaw as they rode past on bicycles in Coburg, Bavaria. Immediately after the incident, the masked man grabbed a 14-year-old by the neck, who subsequently managed to escape. On October 28th, the German Interior Ministry announced they would be implementing a "zero tolerance" policy toward menacing clown masks:
"When people face threats of violence on a wide scale, it can be treated as an offense. It no longer has anything to do with harmless Halloween traditions."
 NY Daily News – South Carolina clown town increases patrol around apartment complex
 Reddit – what the fuck is going on with these creepy rapey clowns
 Reddit – whats up with these reports of clowns attempting
 Reddit – whats up with all the clowns sightings
 Facebook – Cleveland County Sheriffs Office
 People – South Carolina Police Chief to Creepy Clowns
 WYFF4 – Film company comments on creepy clown sightings
 People – Multiple Reports – but Little Evidence – of Scary Clowns Appearing Around SC Apartment
 BBC – Lurking clown arrested in Kentucky woods
 Twitter- @philtvnews
 Twitter – @philtvnews
 Jezebel – Under the Mask Scary Clowns Are Just Dorks
 Paper Mag – Scary Clown From Woods Arrested
 Reddit – Kentucky police arrest lurking clown
 NJ – More suspicious clowns reported
 WABC-TV – More Creepy Clown Incidents
 Twitter – @ChaseBrunner
 Twitter – #IfISeeAClown
 Twitter – @larabarr38
 Facebook – Nicole Sinn's Post
 Facebook – Clown Lives Matter (defunct)
 TIME – Clowns Will March in Tucson to Prove They’re ‘Not Psycho Killers’
 Tucson News Now – 'Clown Lives Matter' peace walk canceled after death threats
 The Washington Post – Germany announces zero tolerance policy
 ABC News (via Wayback Machine) – Germany Reports Attacks by Clowns Wielding Chainsaws
Oct 14, 2016 at 05:08PM EDT
Sep 09, 2016 at 01:43PM EDT
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