The baffling and ultimately ridiculous creepy/violent clown trend may be just a twisted hoax gone viral, but it has come to the Bay Area and it's resulted in at least one creepy clown trying to take a woman's one-year-old daughter from her arms, or so she claims.
Earlier this week we had a report on clown-related threats being made on social media at a school in Fairfield, and that followed on numerous incidents nationwide that seem to have been inspired by a national news segment on NBC in August about reports of scary clowns trying to lure kids into the woods in Greenville, South Carolina. And now even Stephen King is telling people to cool it.
The Chronicle reports that 24-year-old Tiffany Martin was sitting at a bus stop near a Denny's in Concord with her one-year-old daughter Kissanni at 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon when a man in a blue wig and clown suit no make-up came and sat beside her. They were chatting about all the creepy clown sightings on the news, when all of a sudden the man allegedly grabbed at the little girl's arm and gave it a tug. "The clown comes up and sits down, all friendly and smiling,” Martin tells the Chronicle. “I pay no mind to it until I realized he snatched my daughter’s arm. He pulls her arm, and I kicked him in the private parts." He then, apparently, ran away, but can we definitely call this an attempted kidnapping? Unclear.'
Also, Concord police told ABC 7 that Martin's initial report was that she kicked the clown in the shin two times.
Reportedly, per KRON 4, "schools in San Mateo, Fairfield, Oakland and Antioch have all [also] been targets of social media clown threats."
AND, in recent days a fake news site called the Daily Finesser has put out a story that spread widely that Congress passed a law authorizing people to shoot suspicious clowns.
Both the Chronicle and KRON 4 call in experts to explain the phenomena, and they each say something a bit different. KRON 4 talks to psychology professor Guarav Suri, who probably sums it up best saying, "It’s mostly about attention. The internet also adds sort of steroids to this phenomenon because even if it’s not being covered on TV it's covered on someone’s Facebook page and that thing goes viral and all of the sudden that is more of a motivation for someone who is seeking attention to want to dress up in a clown outfit."
The Chronicle's expert is SF State University psychology professor David Matsumoto, who gets a bit more basic about the costuming itself. "[The clown suit] provides de-identification [for the wearer]," he says, saying that anonymity fuels offensive and bad behavior. "Identity is a large part of how society regulates behavior,” he says.
King, author of scary clown bible It, the upcoming remake of which has been blamed for inspiring this recent phenomenon, chimed in this week on Twitter.
Hey, guys, time to cool the clown hysteria--most of em are good, cheer up the kiddies, make people laugh.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) October 3, 2016
Also, embarrassingly, as the Chronicle notes, the clown thing came up in a White House press briefing, with press secretary Josh Earnest saying, "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."
Can we blame the Juggalos yet?
Update: Unfortunately, an Arizona woman is now starting a Clown Lives Matter movement, to stop the besmirching of good clowns.