Reactions to clown sightings have created a wide variety of reactions. Many expect it’s just pranksters who get their kicks out of scaring kids and “over-reactive” parents. But today threats are taken seriously, and if actual threats are made by offenders, who are also aggravating the situation by hiding their identity, that is against the law. People nationwide have reported sinister-looking clowns, but many of the sightings have turned out to be hoaxes, and some false alarms.
If no threats are made, and there is no trespass offense, then it is probably legal to dress up as a clown. But is it smart? It’s difficult to believe that a national “creepy clown” trend has received as much attention as it has. It’s also hard to believe that there have been as many probable copycat offenders as there have been. The creepy clown incidents scare people or waste people’s time, waste police resources, and possibly put the “clowns” themselves at risk.
Antioch, Illinois police department is giving pranksters and copycats fair warning. Clowns who are acting legally or illegally could cause frightened people or people that feel threatened to respond in self-defense. Antioch has received several reports of people dressed as clowns, mostly “engaged in benign behaviors, such as standing or walking through a parking lot or down the street,” police say. Police also responded to a report of someone in a car wearing a clown mask while holding a baseball bat outside the window.
Antioch Police Department released a community advisory about “creepy clown” of incidents.
“These incidents have people on high alert, and those deciding to dress as clowns are warned to take great care and consideration in doing so, as it is possible that those they target may respond quickly and with force if they feel they must defend themselves.”
— Antioch Police Department
Safety Tips from Police:
-Parents should teach children to stay away from strangers dressed as clowns.
-Dressing up as a clown isn’t illegal, but observers should call 9-1-1 if a disguised person is “behaving suspiciously” or harassing them.
-Don’t confront someone dressed as a clown.
-Note the clown’s outfit and any vehicle involved in the encounter and any direction of travel of the vehicle and/or clown.
Antioch police emphasize that people considering dressing up as a clown should realize “they may be putting their own safety at risk” if someone misunderstands the prank or feels threatened.
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