Don’t clown around

A rash of “creepy clown” sightings in communities across the nation, including on several college campuses, has prompted NIU Police to issue a simple message: Don’t do it.

The internet-fueled phenomenon has included an incident at the University of Illinois Chicago on Tuesday, when a student in clown garb (who said his actions were “performance art”) was detained by police. Monday night at Penn State, more than 500 students took to the streets to track down a clown reportedly in the area.

“Clearly the Internet buzz over this has people on edge,” said NIU Chief of Police Tom Phillips. “We don’t want anyone getting hurt, whether it be the target of a prank, or a prankster whose behavior provokes a violent reaction. It’s just not worth it.”

Like other agencies across the country, NIU Police and DeKalb Police say they will treat seriously any “clowning” incidents designed to cause a disturbance in the community. Nationwide, police in more than a dozen states have already made arrests for people dressing as clowns and acting in a threatening manner; posting “clowning” threats online; and for making false complaints regarding clowns.

Both police departments urge members of the community to report any suspicious activity by calling NIU Police at 815-753-1212 or DeKalb Police at 815-748-8400. Emergency situations should be reported to 911.

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