The star entertainment of rodeos, circuses, and children’s birthday parties: The clown.
But over the past few months, hysteria has broken out about a different kind of clown. These aren’t exactly balloon-twisting circus clowns. They are posing death threats, scaring children, and creeping on people in their homes.
Reports of clown scares raced across the East Coast beginning in August and have recently gone global, with sightings being reported in England as well. The first scare occurred in South Carolina, where clowns were seen flashing laser lights and attempting to lure people with money.
Reports have popped up in at least 20 states across America, causing havoc. In Ohio, schools were closed one Friday in September after a clown sighting was reported.
Twelve arrests have been made, with charges for false reports or chasing people.
Close to home, Henrico County Police charged two teenagers wearing clown masks. In Virginia, if someone is over 16 years old, it is a felony to “purposely conceal your face”.
There have also been social media threats to Henrico County schools, including Godwin.
“We just made sure we were vigilant about any concerns, but anything beyond our concern was just a rumour,” said Godwin principal Leigh Dunavant.
There have been calls to police all over Virginia, not just Henrico, making this issue even more serious. Many police officers are overwhelmed with the number of calls, and wish to believe they are just pranks.
Many people are taking the clown threats lightly, as many calls are pranks. There have been no serious injuries or deaths directly linked to the clown craze, but many police departments across the country are taking this matter seriously.
A lot of clown threats have been posted on social media as well, with Twitter and Instagram clown accounts such as @stitches.theclown804 popping up.
The craze even piqued the attention of the White House, when Press Secretary Josh Earnest was asked about it.
At a White House press briefing, Earnest said, “Obviously, this is a situation that local law enforcement authorities take quite seriously, and they should carefully and thoroughly review perceived threats to the safety of the community, and they should do so prudently.”