While out cycling last month in Virginia, Juli Briskman noticed President Trump’s motorcade passing to her left. She offered what she calls a gut reaction to Trump’s policies and raised her middle finger to flip off his motorcade.
“He was passing by and my blood just started to boil,” she told the Huffington Post. “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.”
A photographer traveling with the presidential motorcade snapped a photo of Briskman’s gesture and the image quickly spread across news outlets and social media. Many hailed Briskman as a hero, with some saying she should run in the 2020 election. Late-night comedy hosts even picked up the story.
Briskman had been working as a marketing and communications specialist for a Virginia-based federal contractor, Akima, for six months. She thought it best to alert the HR department to the online fuss. Bosses then called her into a meeting, she said.
“They said, ‘We’re separating from you,’” Briskman told the Huffington Post. “‘Basically, you cannot have lewd or obscene things in your social media.’ So they were calling flipping him off obscene.”
She says the company wasn’t happy that she used the image as her profile picture on her social media accounts, and told her it violated social media policy and could hurt the company’s reputation as a government contractor.
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.
Unfortunately for Briskman, Virginia is an “at will” employment state, meaning private-sector employees can be fired for any reason.
Suddenly, the 50-year-old mother of two found herself looking for a new job.
Briskman, a democrat, intends to find a new job with advocacy groups that align with her beliefs, such as Planned Parenthood or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
After leaving his Virginia golf club and before passing Briskman, Trump’s motorcade passed a pedestrian who gave a vigorous thumbs-down gesture. Another woman had been standing outside the entrance to the golf club holding a sign saying “Impeach.”
Briskman says she has no regrets about the attention her public show of displeasure received. In fact, she claims to be 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.”