“Creepy clown” craze hits Bay Area


Illustration by Dina Arakcheyeva/The Pioneer

Louis LaVenture,

Straight from the silver screen to the streets, clowns are scaring people nationwide, causing police departments and school districts in the Bay Area and nationwide to take action.

Several reports surfaced in August that people dressed in clown costumes were lingering by the woods in several cities in South Carolina where they attempted, unsuccessfully, to lure children away.

Reports have since come out in more than 30 states of scary clown sightings, and while none of the incidents have resulted in death or injury, there have been several arrests made in connection with “clown activity.” Seven people were charged with felonies in September for making terrorist threats to use “clown activity,” according to the Rainbow City Police Department in Rainbow City, Alabama, where the arrests were made.

The phenomenon reached the Bay Area last week when several local schools were threatened via social media by “creepy clown” accounts, according to school districts. Oakland, San Jose, Fairfield, Antioch, Livermore and New Haven are some of the districts that have confirmed threats and issued letters to parents about the craze.

According to the Richmond Police Department, on Oct. 4 a “creepy clown” was reported near a gym on McDonald Avenue in Richmond. The same day, the Fremont Police Department said they received a call about a “creepy clown,” but after they talked to the clown, they determined he was not acting suspiciously.

The Fairfield Police Department and the Oakland Unified School District both confirmed on Oct. 4 that schools received threats. OUSD representative John Sasaki said he would not confirm which schools were threatened, but he did say the threats were made via the social media site Instagram.

Ebony Miller is a parent of two children in OUSD and the “creepy clown” phenomenon scares her.

“People are crazy in Oakland as it is,” Miller said. “It’s already dangerous out here. Now I gotta worry about some even crazier people dressed up like clowns? I’m scared as hell of clowns thanks to them movies.” Miller went on to explain that the 1990 movie “It”, based on the Stephen King novel about a child-killing clown, started her paranoia. Miller said she saw the movie as a child and became petrified of clowns.

On Oct. 5, the Antioch Police Department was called out to Dallas Ranch Middle School after social media posts were made that said clowns were going to shoot at the school.

While most of the clown sightings and threats have been hoaxes, it got all too real on Oct. 5 in Concord. The Concord Police Department confirmed that around 1 p.m. a man dressed as a clown in a blue wig approached a woman and her one-year-old at a bus stop. After a brief conversation, the clown grabbed the child’s arm and attempted to pull him when the woman kicked him in the leg and the man ran away.

In addition to clown costumes being banned by school districts and cities throughout the country, the retail giant Target also put their stamp on the controversy. On Monday, company spokesman Joshua Thomas said that the chain removed several clown costumes from their just under 2,000 stores nationwide and online. However, Thomas did not specify which stores specifically would be affected.