Clowning Around in Connecticut: School Bans Clown Costumes Because They Are 'Symbols of Fear'
The repeated reports of creepy clowns across the country has led one Connecticut district to ban the costumes and other so-called “symbols of terror” as Halloween approaches.
Meanwhile, reports of clowns sitings — thus far unconfirmed by campus police — led dozens of University of Connecticut students armed with baseball bats and other weapons to mob the campus cemetery, according to the student newspaper.
New Haven Public School district officials announced the ban on Monday, noting that principals and building leaders requested clown costumes be prohibited until more information is available about the recent reports of creepy clown sightings in the state — and across the country, the Associated Press reports.
Authorities are also investigating several Instagram accounts and posts that appear to fuel the “clown panic,” according to the AP.
District officials said they are working with the New Haven Police Department to investigate the authenticity of several clown-related Instagram posts and accounts, although it is unclear whether the posts pose any real threat to the district, NBC Connecticut reports.
There have been reports of creepy clown sightings everywhere from Georgia to Maryland to Oregon. And NBC reports that the clown panic has made its way online, with several accounts popping up on Instagram.
“We will be out north philly … west philly … Northeast … schools and y’all houses,” one account, called “phillyclown33″ states,” according to a screenshot taken by NBC.
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Two New Jersey teens were arrested on Monday after authorities allegedly discovered they were behind some of the threatening social media posts, NBC reports.
On Monday, several social media users took to Twitter, writing that clown sightings on Quinnipiac University had led to a campus-wide lockdown. However, university officials shut down the rumors in a tweet.
“The University is secure and is NOT in lockdown,” the tweet read. “All campus operations are running normally.”
The rash of clown sightings began in late August with South Carolina residents reporting a group of mysterious clowns in the woods nearby — with at least one attempting to lure kids into the woods with money, officials previously told PEOPLE.
However, Benjamin Radford, a folklorist and author, previously told PEOPLE that the panic is likely to die down in the next weeks.
“My expectation is that there will be a few more reports between now and Halloween and after that it will taper off,” he says.
“I would say by mid-November it will have essentially tapered off, there may be one or two more people arrested for pranks, and it’ll fade away and [be], ‘Hey remember that weird fall in 2016 when the clown panic happened?’ “