The “killer clowns” have invaded Mexico.
While for most people Halloween is still a few weeks away, “killer clown” costumes have been appearing in the streets of major cities in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada in a twisted interpretation of the entertaining slapstick characters.
According to some reports, one probable origin of the trend is a series of prank videos dating back to 2014, in which a “killer” or “bad clown” scares pedestrians in an attempt at comedy and online stardom.
But there have also been cases where the pranksters allegedly went beyond the prank and assaulted their targets.
The practice has now appeared in Mexico, where police around the country have been receiving clown reports, and even an alleged case of lynching.
Late Sunday night a youth identified as Víctor Javier was arrested in Mexicali, Baja California, after he was seen walking down a street with an “ugly clown” mask on his face and carrying a large, rusty axe. He was detained for “carrying a forbidden weapon.”
In Monterrey, capital of Nuevo León, at least one blurry clown has been sighted on social media, where commenters are certain that clowns are on a criminal spree, targeting several neighborhoods and raising concerns among the general population.
Other commenters, perhaps more sensible, have regarded the whole issue and the viral photograph of a lone, “scary” clown as fake.
In the country’s capital (or the city of Guadalajara, sources differ) it wasn’t a picture but a low-definition video, depicting a crafty individual donning the iconic garb of Penny Wise, immortalized in Stephen King’s novel It.
Yet another “killer clown” was also reported in the Tlaxcala municipality of Contla de Juan Cuamatzi, this one engaging, chasing and scaring its high school victims with a baseball bat.
An unofficial municipal Facebook account warned the students from the Cobat 06 school that the clown had been seen hiding close by with unknown intentions.
Today, the Mirror newspaper in the U.K. reported that a criminology expert puts the craze down to the power people can feel when their faces are hidden. Dr. Adam Lynes said ordinary people could put on a clown mask and behave in a way they wouldn’t dream of if their faces were not disguised.
“The very act of hiding one’s face is very powerful, potentially leading these individuals to act in a way they normally would not when their faces are visible.”
There is a cultural mindset that clowns are evil, Lynes said, perpetuated by the book It and the character called The Joker in Batman stories. “The individuals dressing as clowns may well be using this well-known fear of clowns as a motivation for engaging in their behavior.”
Among the clowning incidents in Britain was that of two clowns armed with machetes who climbed over a woman’s car, terrifying her young daughters. In another case, a woman eight months pregnant gave birth prematurely when she was startled by a clown.
The most chilling report of the phenomenon in Mexico came last weekend when the presence of a couple of “demon clowns” was reported in the State of México municipality of Ecatepec. The story had a tragic outcome as the pair had been allegedly lynched to death after scaring one pedestrian too many.
An illustrative photograph depicted two covered corpses lying on a street, their brightly colored clothes and hilariously oversized shoes peeping out of the white blanket. A throng of onlookers ogled the gruesome, cordoned-off scene.
It was later revealed that although the two clowns really were dead, they had met their end in May 2015 in a nondescript city in Guatemala.
May this last story serve as a cautionary tale for eager pranksters and idle jesters. All can be in (alleged) good fun, until it isn’t.