'Clownpocalypse': Canadian students fall prey to viral scare
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, October 6, 2016 12:23PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, October 7, 2016 11:03AM EDT
The clownpocalypse has arrived in Canada.
That's the word spreading on social media this week, after individuals dressed as creepy clowns were spotted in several Canadian cities including Edmonton, Toronto and Halifax. The sightings appear to be part of a growing trend that's already spread through the United States, where clowns have been reportedly terrorizing children, stalking pedestrians, triggering lockdowns at schools and brandishing weapons in the street.
A handful of arrests have been made, revealing the offenders to be mostly teenagers or people in their twenties. No distinct cause has been identified, but the incidents have received widespread attention in the news and on social media.
In Toronto, for instance, two teens were detained in connection with an incident at a school on Wednesday. One of the teens allegedly dressed up as a clown and chased other students around the property, while another teen filmed the incident for a YouTube video, police said.
The mother of a teen in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., hauled him into the police station this week after he allegedly admitted to posing as a clown in a viral photo.
Meanwhile in Edmonton, two teens have been charged with making online threats against high schools.
Two teens were also charged in Prince George, B.C., for a clown-related message on Instagram that read: "Every school in PG is about to get hit."
A 24-year-old was arrested in Clark's Harbour, N.S., on Tuesday after witnesses reported that a clown had grabbed a boy's clothing. Elsewhere in the province, two police departments confirmed they were investigating social media posts involving clowns. One suspicious Instagram post under the name Halifax Clowns read: "We stalking you so keep your eyes open. We ain't killing, we just creeping." The image appeared to show a clown standing on the sidewalk outside Halifax West High School.
"If people feel they have been threatened or intimidated, then they need to reach out to their local police," Cpl. Jennifer Clarke, of Nova Scotia RCMP, told The Canadian Press.
Nova Scotia’s education minister, Karen Casey, has called on the Department of Justice and RCMP to investigate.
“Children are becoming very frightened. I’m hearing from parents who say their children are afraid to walk to school,” Casey said at a press conference on Thursday.
The Halifax Regional School Board said it has been made aware of the incident and is taking extra precautions.
“Schools in HRSB are aware of these threats and are taking them into account as they go through their daily routines, including monitoring access to their sites,” the school board said in an online statement.
The New Haven public school board in Connecticut announced earlier this week that it has banned all clown costumes and "any symbols of terror" during the Halloween season.
A similar ban was imposed in the French town of Vendargues around Halloween in 2014, amid a wave of assaults involving clown-costumed criminals.
The 2014 trend included some frightening clown sightings in the southwestern United States, but it didn't come close to reaching the popularity of this year's creepy clown phenomenon.
Marc Botte, a consultant with 902 Advertising Group, says the clown trend is popular because it's a sort of "real-life online game."
"It's a game that has relatively low risks and relatively high thrill rewards," he told CTV Ottawa.
Social media users are documenting the clown sightings under the hashtag #Clownsightings. Some of the videos under the hashtag appear to have been staged as a way to participate in the viral trend.
University of Cincinnati pic.twitter.com/BNTpHmVEAh— Clown Sightings (@ClownSighting) October 5, 2016
The clowns have also spawned a tongue-in-cheek "Clownpocalypse" hashtag, with people cracking jokes and sharing humorous "plans" for how they intend to deal with the smirking, demonic-looking figures. A few even called on Batman to use his Joker-fighting expertise to save the world from the clown invasion.
If people want to go dress up as clowns...why don't people start dressing like Batman and go after these clowns???? #clownpocalypse— Andrew Sherank (@a_sheranko116) October 5, 2016
Okay Batman... time to come out and stop the Joker and his creepy clowns. #clownpocalypse— Hannah Wendels (@hannah_wendels) October 6, 2016
Clowns terrorizing the streets. A real life billionaire villain running for President. We need you, Batman.— Nick Diener (@nickdiener) October 4, 2016
Clown hunting is the new Pokemon go #clownpocalypse— Josh Grant (@_josh_grant) October 6, 2016
There have been no reports of people being injured by clowns. However, some Twitter users have raised concerns that the popular trend could have deadly consequences in the U.S., where guns are prevalent.
Soooo if one of these people lurkin in clown outfits gets shot and killed is it murder or self defense or...— Dillan (@millzyyyy) September 26, 2016
It's all fun and games til a clown gets shot— John Valentine (@BobcatQB) September 26, 2016
With files from CTV Atlantic, CTV Toronto and The Canadian Press