Woman fired over giving President Trump the middle finger

Federal-based contractor deem Juli Briskman’s actions ‘obscene’ and claim it could hurt business

Donald Trump Finger
The photo at the centre of the furore
(Image credit: Brendan Smialowski/Getty)

A woman who was photographed raising her middle finger at Donald Trump as his motorcade went past has been fired over the incident.

The image of Juli Briskman, which quickly went viral, was taken by an official White House photographer in Virginia as the president’s car passed her on her bicycle.

Briskman’s gesture was a gut reaction to the Republican’s policies, she said.

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“He was passing by and my blood just started to boil,” Briskman told HuffPost. “I’m thinking Daca recipients are getting kicked out. He pulled ads for open enrollment in Obamacare. Only one-third of Puerto Rico has power. I'm thinking, he's at the damn golf course again.”

“I flipped off the motorcade a number of times,” she added.

People on social media hailed Briskman as a “she-ro”, and a hashtag, #her2020, was created by her supporters.

Briskman had been working as a marketing and communications specialist for a Virginia-based federal contractor, Akima, for six months. On her first day back at work after the incident, Briskman warned the company’s HR department over her role in the online fuss.

The next day, her bosses told her that she violated the company’s social media policy by using the viral image as her profile picture on Facebook and Twitter.

“They said, ‘We’re separating from you,’” Briskman told HuffPost. “Basically, you cannot have ‘lewd’ or ‘obscene’ things in your social media. So they were calling flipping him off ‘obscene’.”

Briskman said she pointed out that her social media pages do not mention her employer, and that the incident happened on her own time. She also said another employee had written a profane insult about someone on Facebook, but had been allowed to keep his job after deleting the post and being reprimanded.

But she was still fired by the government contractor, which “said the incident could hurt business”, says USA Today.

Briskman, who votes Democrat, said she planned to look for a new job with an advocacy group that she believes in, such as Planned Parenthood or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

So far Akima has not responded to the furore, but Virginia has “at will” employment laws, meaning private-sector employers can fire people for any reason, explains The Guardian.

Briskman said she had no regrets about the attention her public show of displeasure received. In fact, she said, she was happy to be an image of protest.

“In some ways, I’m doing better than ever,” she said. “I’m angry about where our country is right now. I am appalled. This was an opportunity for me to say something.”

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