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'Creepy clown' hysteria has arrived in our back yard

Brittany Martin

In recent weeks, the country has been terrorized by scary clowns. The social-media-fueled hysteria has been sweeping across the U.S., starting in the southeast, and it appears to have finally arrived in SoCal.

The L.A. Times reports that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has issued warnings about men wearing clown masks and wielding knives at random strangers to videotape their terrified reactions. In Temecula, an online posting warned that clowns would kidnap students and kill teachers at a local school, and a Fontana teen is now in a juvenile detention center after being arrested for making violent threats involving a “scary clown picture,” according to the Press-EnterpriseIn San Pedro, ABC7 reports that two individuals dressed as creepy clowns, though apparently unarmed, were found skulking around a local elementary school, and the Orange County Register has logged sightings in Huntington Beach, as well as threats on a school in Irvine. 

So what, exactly, is going on here? It all seems to have started in Greenville, S.C., back in August, when the media reported that “suspicious clowns were attempting to lure children into the woods,” according to NPR. Costumed copycats then started popping up in state after state, playing into the widespread sense that something about clowns can be pretty unsettling. In some incidents there are reports of the clowns robbing their victims at knife or gunpoint or attempting other mayhem, but the vast majority of the creepy clown sightings seem to be just Halloween-season pranks or even outright hoaxes carried out entirely online.

Since most of the sightings are pretty harmless, there’s probably no immediate reason to start glancing over your shoulder, fearing a creepy clown is sneaking up on you—but then again, you probably can never be too careful when it comes to clowns.  

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