Some professional clowns in Chicago fear for their livelihood and safety in the wake of a rash of recent hoaxes and threats involving individuals wearing clown masks and makeup.
Mario Gonzalez is a professional clown in Chicago who says he’s afraid for his after multiple incidents involving people dressed as clowns threatening schools and individuals in the Chicago area as well as throughout the nation.
“I’m feeling kind of… fear… really,” Gonzalez said. “I have been doing this for maybe 30 years and I never feel like that before.”
Clown-related threats have been reported in suburban Oak Park, Waukegan, Crystal Lake and beyond.
Chicago police say while they are aware of the bizarre trend, they have not made any arrests related to clowns.
"This fad originated on social media and is taking place in cities across the country,” the Chicago Police Department said in a statement. “Although dressing as a clown is not illegal, CPD strongly discourages this type of activity. Any and all individuals who engage in illegal or threatening behavior will be held accountable for their actions and citizens should call 911 should they have personal safety concerns.”
Gonzalez says he has received threats of violence on Facebook because of his clown affiliation.
“That’s why I’m a little afraid,” he said.
One Facebook post even offers a cash reward to anyone able to hunt down the clowns.
“Don’t be afraid of us, we are funny clowns, we’re not doing scary things, we are professionals,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said he stays away from people and kids who seem afraid of clowns to avoid perpetuating the recent negative connotation. He also offered some advice to people considering dressing up like clowns and other professionals.
“We suggest don’t wear our costume,” he said, adding that, if a person does feel inclined to dress as a clown, not to use too much makeup. Professional clowns should try to get a driver to events like birthday parties and take the makeup off as soon as the event is over.
“I suggest to the people, if they see a clown, call the police and don’t do bad things … I’m afraid somebody will hurt a real clown … please call the police, don’t shoot,” he said.