Police, concerned that a “creepy clown craze” has spread from the United States to Australia, have issued a warning that they will not tolerate people dressed as clowns scaring members of the public.
The warning, however, seems to have had little impact.
According to news.com, a terrified Brisbane woman claims she almost drove over a clown after it approached her car holding a knife.
The woman in Redland Bay said she was left horrified after the clown ran at her vehicle.
“I was driving home from work last night, went to park my car, and then I see this clown on the road,” she said.
“I stopped to get a better look, trying to figure out what it was, and next thing I know it pulls up a knife and starts running at my car.
“I almost ran the f****** thing over. I screamed so loud.”
The craze emerged in the US in August, with reports of clowns trying to lure children into woods in South Carolina.
The reports sparked the formation of clown groups across the US and mass clown hunts.
In addition to South Carolina, the craze has caused problems for law enforcement agencies in Alabama, Georgia and Pennsylvania, with claims that those in costume were lurking in the shadows to frighten and chase people and engage in theft.
Police have refused to divulge details of Melbourne clown sightings, but are taking a serious approach to the issue.
Victoria Police says it is aware of people in the state parading in public while wearing clown masks, and of ”clown purge” Facebook pages.
“The clown purge appears to be a copycat of incidents being seen in the USA recently,” a Victoria Police statement said.
A police spokeswoman could not give details on where the clowns had been sighted in Melbourne, but warned “any intimidating and threatening” behaviour would be investigated.
Boy ‘attacked by knife-wielding clown’
Time magazine reports that while many incidents in America were hoaxes, a handful resulted in arrests.
The magazine also reported an incident of a clown, armed with a knife, chasing a boy through a New York subway station.
One Facebook page, claiming to be the Melbourne Clown Association, warns residents of the city to “be ready” to face their horrific scares.
– misses out on tours
– gets very few acts/artists
– pretty much invisible
– still gets involved in clown purge
— Aida (@aidz_1) October 6, 2016
Another Facebook page with around 3000 likes has promised to hunt down clowns in the northern suburbs.
“We ain’t clownin’ around, we will see who will be having the last laugh,” it says.
“Expect us in your streets.”
A photo posted by Clown sightings in Australia (@clown.sightings.australia) on
Police on Friday afternoon said their warning applied to both those dressing up as clowns and those threatening to harm them.
Numerous other “clown purge” pages have cropped up around Australia, including in Sydney, Perth and Adelaide.
— NO CHILL (@NoChillPosts) October 7, 2016
In South Australia, a police spokeswoman said she was aware of instances in Adelaide and in regional towns of people dressing up like clowns and randomly scaring people in public places.
“Police would like to emphasise to those who may intend to engage in this kind of behaviour, for whatever intention, that it could potentially result in danger to them or other members of the public,” the spokeswoman told the Adelaide Advertiser.
“Particularly for people who may suffer from a health condition or who may retaliate as a result of feeling threatened.”
People in the US have now taken to “clown hunting” and on Wednesday hundreds of students in Pennsylvania State University formed a mob to chase down clowns who had been scaring people on campus.
Author Stephen King, whose villainous clown character Pennywise in the 1986 novel It scared a generation of readers, has urged people to cool down over the clown craze.
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
Some commentators have suggested a forthcoming film adaptation of the novel is behind the wave of spooky activity and could be a form of viral marketing.
The growing anti-clown sentiment has alarmed professional clowns who fear they may be subjected to violence due to this trend.
Some have urged people not to profile and to remember that real clowns aim to spread joy, not fear.
Professional clown Jordan Jones, also known as Snuggles, has responded to the phenomenon by starting the #ClownLivesMatter movement — a take on the #BlackLivesMatter campaign — to create a positive view of clowns.
A ‘Clown Lives Matter’ protest will take place next week in Tucson, Arizona in an attempt to uphold the good reputation of clowns.