A Halloween clown purge rumor is spreading like wildfire across the internet, with the viral report claiming that people dressed in the creepy attire are planning widespread violence across much of the United States and even the U.K. on Halloween.
The rumors of Halloween violence have been circulating for several weeks now, but the reports hit a peak in the days leading up to the candy-loving holiday. Now, there is a chance that the rumors, flimsy as they may be, could put a major damper on trick-or-treating in the communities allegedly being threatened.
The original rumor of a Halloween clown purge came from a Facebook page called Clown Hunters that issued a vague warning of violence on the night before Halloween.
“Warning: Clowns are allegedly planning their own purge the night before Halloween. Stay inside, keep all pets inside and keep all doors and windows locked.”
The rumor never came to bear — there appears to be no violence reported across dozens of cities and communities on the Halloween clown purge “watch list” — and it appears to be a viral hoax continuing in a popular theme. The recent spate of clown sightings has been largely the work of pranksters looking to make a scare, with very few incidences of random violence being reported from the clown-costumed people.
The clown purge rumors also followed in a popular hoax that has taken hold in the last several years. After the release of the movie The Purge — which is about a world in which all laws are void for one night a year, leading to widespread mayhem and violence — there have been many reports about “purges” supposedly taking place across the United States. All of the reports turned out to be hoaxes.
Despite the fact that the Halloween clown purge rumors almost assuredly a hoax, some are still taking them seriously. Several of the areas listed as potential settings for these outbreaks of violence are taking precaution, including Greenville, South Carolina, close to where the clown craze started near the end of the summer.
It was in this area that the creepy clowns were first spotted in August, with the costumed people reportedly trying to lure children into the woods. Some local residents expressed fears about the recent clown threats to WISH-TV, but others believe the rumors are nothing to be worried about.
“I think everything is going to be fine,” local resident Sade Hemphill told the news outlet. “It’s mainly talk. I don’t believe anything is going to happen.”
But many are taking precautions against potential violence. Target stores in the area pulled clown masks from their stores, and McDonald’s restaurants even limited the appearances for their Ronald McDonald character.
Others are planning more drastic measures to protect against the Halloween clown purge. In Palm Bay, Florida, some residents are uneasy about recent clown threats including two men who were arrested while threatening people with bats and axes while dressed as clowns. That has police and residents in the area worried that someone may try to act out the Halloween clown purge, Florida Today reported.
Some local residents even told the paper they planned to be armed while taking their kids trick-or-treating.
“I’ll be carrying for sure, I’m not leaving to chance,” said Kimberly Kersey. “I’m terrified of clowns already and if one messes with me or my kids it’ll be to the hospital or morgue they go.”
But police are also afraid that the Halloween clown purge rumors could lead to misplaced violence against people who just happen to be dressed like clowns.
“If you want to go after them and attack them, that is against the law,” Master Deputy Ryan Flood said.
“If they’re being aggressive, acting like they’re going to attack someone, then sure call us, but if they’re just trick-or-treating, then just let them go,” Flood added.
But despite the warnings from police and the calls not to worry too much about the alleged threats, the Halloween clown purge rumors are still going strong on social media leading into October 31.
[Featured Image by James Kenney/AP Images]