Consequences of clowning around echo throughout the nation

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There have been numerous clown sightings throughout the nation, eliciting fear in Port Washington residents.

Niki Gillman, Assistant News Editor

Coulrophobia is not a new phenomenon.  People have been afraid of clowns for years, making them a recurring subject in horror movies and books, such as Stephen King’s “It”.  In fact, when the first case of “creepy clowns” were seen in South Carolina, many believed that they were promoting the release of a movie based on King’s novel.  However, as the clown terror continues to spread throughout the country, more people are beginning to view clowns as frightening, and are taking steps to keep themselves safe from these terror-inducing individuals.

The clown epidemic began on Aug. 29, in Greenville, South Carolina, when a young boy reported seeing two clowns trying to lure him into the woods.  Since then, the number of clown sightings has increased to over 100, appearing in 39 states.  Though most of these sightings have been debunked as hoaxes, and pose no real threat to the general public, the police have confirmed a number of threats that have been deemed legitimate.  In extreme cases, these clowns have been seen carrying knives and guns, or have reportedly been intoxicated upon police capture.

The persistence of the clown issue in the media has caused Schreiber students to be wary of their surroundings as Halloween draws near.

“Personally, I’m afraid of what this means for the school, especially with Halloween coming up, since students are going to be dressing up as clowns because they think it’s funny,” said junior Danie DiRuggiero.

Around Port Washington, alleged sightings of these clowns have been reported, including in the cross-country trail behind Schreiber.  However, the Port Washington Police District has confirmed that there have been no official clown sightings in town, and that there are no clown gang connections in Port Washington to cause any concern about the growing issue.

With Halloween approaching, the epidemic shows no signs of stopping.  Since the end of September, there have been seven serious clown related threats to the Long Island and New York City areas, causing four schools to lockdown for the safety of their students.  A clown terror group, dubbed “Ain’t Clownin Around”, has been busy making violent threats, specifically to schools, through the use of Twitter.  In their threats, they refer to themselves as a gang, though the police have yet to track them down, and subsequently do not know how large their group is, or if their threats are legitimate.

“It’s terrifying and I just wonder why this is happening,” said junior Clara Teitel.  “How can people be so cruel and think that it’s okay to terrorize people?”

The clown activity has gotten so severe that Stephen King has taken it upon himself to intervene.

In a tweet issued on October 3, he wrote, “Hey, guys, time to cool the clown hysteria—most of  ‘em are good, cheer up the kiddies, make people laugh.”

Even with this plea, however, the sightings do not show any sign of slowing down.  As recently as Oct. 5, a teenage boy reported being chased by a clown after leaving school in Lakeview, Long Island.  He was able to lose the clown only after running through a series of alleyways, when he finally deemed it safe to stop and call the police.

The sudden thrust of such a negative spotlight has hurt professional clowns, who make their living off of the clowning business, and who feel that their lives are now at danger.  At midnight on Oct. 4, almost 6,000 students of Pennsylvania State University gathered to form a “clown hunt,” after reports of creepy clowns roaming the campus reached the students.  Events like this one have turned the fear onto law-abiding friendly clowns, who are concerned about their futures in their chosen line or work.  For this reason, a march by the name of “Clown Lives Matter” has been organized to take place in Tucson, Arizona later this month.  The organizer of the event, part time clown, Nikki Sinn, wants to promote a positive message about clowns, so as to remind the public that the majority of clowns are well doing citizens who mean no harm to anybody.

In a recent statement released by the NYPD, officials urge people to go about their daily routines as they normally would, and not to let fear take over their lives.  Previous clown epidemics have come and gone, the most notable being in the 1980’s, and the faster this one blows out of the media, the faster it will be over.