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Published: Saturday, 7/14/2001

Send in the Clowns

Toledo police arrest Jeff Farby of Detroit for disorderly conduct. Toledo police arrest Jeff Farby of Detroit for disorderly conduct.

The first day of this weekend's invasion of clown-faced, spike-haired Juggalos featured an Insane Clown Posse fan punching a Toledo police horse and Faygo flowing on downtown streets.

The three-day Gathering of the Juggalos 2001 Convention at the SeaGate Centre began yesterday with 20 arrests -- 15 adults and five juveniles -- as 7,000 fans of the band swarmed downtown for the beginning of the three-day event.

For several hours, St. Clair Street between Washington and Monroe streets and Monroe between Summit and Superior streets were closed to regulate the rap duo's loyalists, who call themselves Juggalos and swill and spill Faygo.

Faygo soda bottles were tossed in the crowd that encircled the sticky, litter-strewn sidewalks around the convention center.

Most of those arrested were males between 16 and 28 years old. Only a few were from Ohio and Michigan. Others were from California, Arizona, and New York.

"Most of the arrests were for disorderly conduct, such as assaults in the crowd, hitting people with Faygo bottles. There were some fireworks thrown in the crowd," police Lt. Shirley Green said.

In addition to the arrest for punching the 12-year-old horse, Lobo, which was not hurt, another person was arrested for indecent behavior.

A worker at the Mud Hens stadium construction site across from the convention center was arrested for inciting the crowd.

Twenty-four officers, including mounted patrol, special enforcement, and command, monitored fans waiting to get into the event yesterday.

"It tied up a lot of our crews, and we're behind [in responding to calls]. It's a tremendous strain. When crews from central district were forced there, crews outside central city were sent to calls, and that left calls in other districts," communications Sgt. Deonn Bortel said.

The manpower drain was felt when undercover officers called for assistance as a major drug bust unfolded in the central city.

"The safety of the officers was seriously jeopardized because of a lack of resources because all our resources were at SeaGate Centre," police Chief Mike Navarre said.

"We had adequate backup and no one was hurt. But that's a risk we don't like to take," Chief Navarre said.

The department will recall about 20 officers this weekend and ask the Lucas County sheriff's department to assign a few deputies downtown.

Police predict the busiest times to be when the event opens again today and tomorrow at 11 a.m. and closes at 11 p.m. each day.

The center will have 49 security guards inside each day, said Jim Donnelly, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Toledo Convention and Visitors Bureau and SeaGate Centre.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said fans of the group who do not respect residents and city laws will be arrested, and the city will take steps to protect public and private property.

Violent J, left, and Shaggy 2 Dope answer questions. About 7,000 fans, or Juggalos, are here for a three-day convention. Violent J, left, and Shaggy 2 Dope answer questions. About 7,000 fans, or Juggalos, are here for a three-day convention.

"We are extremely disappointed in the SeaGate Convention Center for booking this event and not coordinating planning or providing adequate security," Mayor Finkbeiner said.

Mr. Donnelly said most of the fans have not been violent.

But he acknowledged that "any time you have a group, there will be a few bad apples."

He said the city was notified two months ago about the event and that city officials "have been in the loop."

Toledo Fire Chief Mike Bell said his department will have four inspectors, a captain, and a paramedic assigned to the event, which includes activities involving fire and pyrotechnics.

Several of the decorative frog sculptures that are part of the city's "It's Reigning Frogs" public-art project were moved from streets around the center for safekeeping to prevent the possibility of damage.

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