Somebody has been clowning around in Fruitvale. But here’s the bare-faced truth – it’s not a crime to dress up as a Bozo in Canada.
Greater Trail police have indeed been called out to Fruitvale two times for reports about a suspicious person. Notably, that person was dressed up as a clown, in one instance walking down a road, in the other, standing at the end of someone’s driveway.
Creepy yes, but not illegal – unless there was some type of altercation between clown and person.
The Trail Times talked with RCMP Cpl. Darryl Orr about this bizarre trend that began south of the border and through the viral world of social media has spread north, in this case, to Fruitvale.
“We’ve had two (reports) within the last week, both in Fruitvale,” said Cpl. Orr from the Greater Trail detachment. “Members responded both times and nobody was found.”
So what’s up with the clown craze?
“It kind of a phenomenon that’s over social media right now,” he replied. “It has kind of a cult following on the Internet right now.”
The Times then asked “what would happen if the clown is caught?”
“We would attend as a suspicious person call, and find out what they were doing,” Orr said. “If they weren’t doing any criminal offence and it wasn’t reported they were doing a criminal offense – in either case, it’s just with the media talking about this stuff going on in the States, there has been assaults both ways – clowns beating on people and people beating on clowns.”
“Can you believe we are talking about this?” the Times asked.
“Nope,” he said. “Generally we just see clowns at the Barnum and Bailey Circus and maybe at Halloween once in awhile, before Halloween is odd, ” he said. “But it’s not a criminal offense to dress up as a clown in Canada.”
That said, suspicious person calls are taken seriously and should be reported.
And Orr did share advice for parents come Oct. 31.
“If you have a child going out for Halloween you might not want to have them dress up as a clown based on what’s been happening on social media and what’s going on.”
Finally, Glenmerry School sent out an advisory about clown-related threats early Monday morning. The newsletter was from a program called “Safer Schools Together.”
And there’s nothing funny about this threat.
“As you have been made aware throughout media and social media we have had a number of ‘Clown’ specific threats,” wrote Theresa Campbell from Safer Schools Together. “These threats are typically referencing kidnapping or targeting schools with threats of violence.
“All school districts, many independent schools and band schools in B.C. have, through the ERASE Bullying Strategy, received training in assessing and responding to threat related behaviour.”
The majority of these threats are appearing through social media platforms primarily through Instagram and Snapchat accounts, she noted.
Law Enforcement and Safer Schools Together have been involved in investigating similar pages that have been created throughout the country but there has been no violence reported at this time.
“It is imperative that you talk to your children about reporting these threats if they see them on social media and bring them to the attention of school officials and/or law enforcement,” she wrote.
“It is also important to make students aware that if they engage in, or participate in any way, in this type of threat related behaviour they will be experience discipline and/or criminal charges.
“Many students see this as a prank and not as a criminal behaviour.”