No joke: French town bans clown costumes for a month
A series of attacks in France is being linked to a spike in people dressing as the scary 'Wasco Clown,' shown in this image from Facebook. (Facebook/Rangel Photography)
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, October 31, 2014 10:56AM EDT
The mayor of a small French town is serious about a month-long ban on clown costumes starting on Halloween, after a series of assaults involving dressed-up teens earlier this month.
Mayor Pierre Dudieuzere of Vendargues, France issued a decree earlier this week banning the costumes for anyone over the age of 13. The ban prohibits residents in the small town of 6,000 from wearing clown masks, costumes or makeup until the end of November.
The ban means there will be no Jokers, Bozos, Krustys or Harley Quinns walking the streets of Vendargues on Halloween night – though the violence seem to be inspired by a different creepy clown.
Pranksters in France have reportedly been emulating the Wasco Clown, a mysterious figure whose creepy photos have inspired a wave of copycats in France and the southern United States. Photos of the figure posted online show a clown in yellow and blue, with a white, scarred mask, red hair and black eyes. Various photos show the clown sitting on a swing, walking through a parking lot and riding a rocking horse – all at night, and all while holding a clutch of balloons.
The creepy clown photos have inspired others to wear similar costumes to commit pranks and crimes in France and the United States.
On Saturday, police in Agde, France arrested 14 teens dressed as scary clowns who were seen wielding guns, knives and baseball bats. Earlier this month, a man dressed as a clown allegedly beat another man with an iron bar in the French town of Montpellier – a 30-minute drive from Vendargues – and another man was recently found guilty in north France of using a clown costume to threaten passers-by.
Scary clown sightings in the United States have been largely isolated to the California towns of Wasco and Bakersfield, where they’ve become a frightening nuisance for locals. Police in Bakersfield arrested a 14-year-old boy earlier this week for using the disguise to scare children, but no violent crimes have been associated with the clown copycats so far.
Videos have also surfaced of pranksters dressing up as scary clowns to frighten unsuspecting people at night.
Coulrophobia, or fear of clowns, is a well-documented phobia. Clowns have inspired a number of villains and monsters in popular culture, from Batman’s arch-nemesis the Joker to the killer clown Pennywise in horror writer Stephen King’s novel “It.”