Clown Craze Comes to UVa?

The morning of October 10, students reported seeing people dressed up in clown costumes and holding baseball bats. One such instance was reported to have taken place just before 5am in front of Gilmer Hall.

The students reportedly saw three individuals dressed in clown costumes holding bats. The students went to call the cops, but the clown-costume-clad individuals fled the scene.

There were later reports of an incident that occurred around 5:30am. Two individuals in clown costumes were walking around with baseball bats near one of the pavilions on the Lawn when students encountered them from a distance.

No official sources have come out and addressed these claims, but the question still lingers: are there clowns on grounds?

Photo courtesy ABC News
Photo courtesy ABC News

Sightings began in late August, many of which were pranks, but their proliferation on social media have inspired both fear and attempts to extend the pranks to real threats. Over 14 people have been arrested in connection to threats and brandishing of deadly weapons.

While many have responded to the clowns by fleeing, some have responded with violence. Students at Pennsylvania State University took to the streets in droves in efforts to retaliate against the clowns in a riotous manhunt. Videos of the riots were spread on social media, and have inspired clown manhunts around the country.

Jack Girerd, a first-year here at UVa, is fairly unconcerned about the fad.

“It doesn’t bother me too much unless they’re hurting people,” Girerd said. “It’s creepy but it’s also ridiculous and kind of funny. I think if it happened here I would fight back. Maybe not riot, but I would fight back.”

In the backlash against the clowns, many have responded with violence. Twitter has become a central location not only for the spread of sightings through accounts like @ClownsSightings and @ClownParanoia, but also the spread of hatred and messages of violence regarding the clowns. There have been many reports of individuals dressed as clowns being seriously injured.

Many police departments have advised against violence towards the clowns as well as told people to stop dressing up as clowns and continuing to spread panic.

The trend has even spread to England, where multiple reports have been made telling of creepy clowns harassing people across the UK. For CNN, Hilary McGann reported that “On Sunday, Cumbria Police said it received nine clown-related reports including one who was holding a knife and another a stick. Thames Valley Police said it responded to 14 incidents in 24 hours over the weekend.”

With Halloween approaching, some predict that there will be more incidents across the country in the coming weeks. Given the increase in violence towards the clowns, however, some believe that fewer people will dress up as creepy clowns due to the risks.

Kameron Miller, a freshman at William & Mary, said, “I’m honestly not sure as to whether or not I’ll see a clown. I’ve heard of people who want to dress up as clowns, but they probably won’t do it because the clowns are getting beat up and stuff. I don’t think it would be worth it.”

Time has yet to tell whether the incidents of the morning of October 10th were isolated or not. In the meantime, Kathy McGruder, an employee at Newcomb Dining Hall, said, “Just watch out. Watch out for yourselves and each other. Carry a pen in your hand. If some clown tries to jump you, just stab, release, and stab again.”


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