The clown panic has spread across Alabama, with more announcements of school lockdowns.
Here's what the great 2016 coulrophobia panic looks like on the ground. First, the specter:
They've been luring children into the woods, spreading fear on social media and causing school lockdowns across Alabama for the past several weeks, authorities said...
In Brighton, a suspect dressed as a clown jumped out of the bushes and chased two teens down the street on Sunday. The incident happened at 8 p.m. on Huntsville Avenue near King Street...
In another incident, on Monday night an 18-year-old was arrested in West Blocton after jumping in front of a car while wearing a clown mask, according to WBRC.
It's a mix of hoaxes, pranks, rumors, and some kind of actual activity, all of which can overlap. Naturally, some of this occurs via social media:
Parents in Montgomery became frightened when an individual known as Bingerman Clownferd made a Facebook post of a schedule showing which Montgomery County schools he was going to visit and when, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
"Warning," Clownferd said. "Get ready to get your a** beat the f*** up. High schools next week. I'm so ready."
Then comes the authorities' response:
Officials across the state are trying to put an end to the "creepy clown" sightings. Some police departments have identified and arrested suspects who have used the clown persona to make threats against schools. Other law enforcement agencies are still trying to catch those behind the threats and pranks.
Naturally these two can feed into each other, with pranksters or people genuinely interested in scaring people more seriously hoping to make their actions even more exciting.
Next come connections to other fears, namely school shootings and terrorism:
Extra deputies patrolled Saks Middle School in Calhoun County after someone threatened on Facebook to start shooting at the school. A 16-year-old Pleasant Valley resident was arrested and charged with terrorist threats.
This last point is important. Clowns are now expanding beyond their own creepiness, and serving to anchor broader, more established fears and stories.
Previously the clown panic has excited other locales in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and California/Indiana/New Mexico. There were some early signs last year. If you want more clown fear in general, Infocult has you covered with a big goofy grin.