11/06/2017 04:21 am ET Updated Nov 07, 2017

Woman Fired For Flipping Off Donald Trump's Motorcade

A photo of Juli Briskman giving the middle finger to the president went viral. Her employer was not pleased.

WASHINGTON ― You may have seen this photo of President Donald Trump’s motorcade winding down a wooded road last week as a woman on a bicycle pedaled by ― giving the middle finger to Trump.


The picture, snapped by a White House photographer traveling with the president as he left his golf course in Sterling, Va., went viral almost immediately. News outlets picked up the story when it appeared in a White House pool report. Late-night talk show hosts told jokes about the encounter and people on social media began hailing the unidentified woman as a “she-ro,” using the hashtag #Her2020.

The woman’s name is Juli Briskman. Her employer, government contractor Akima LLC, wasn’t so happy about the photo. They fired her over it.

In a Saturday interview with HuffPost, Briskman, a 50-year-old mother of two, said she was stunned that someone had taken a picture of her giving Trump the middle finger. 

As the photo circulated online, Briskman decided to tell Akima’s HR department what was happening when she went to work on Monday. By Tuesday, her bosses called her into a meeting and said she had violated the company’s social media policy by using the photo as her profile picture on Twitter and Facebook.

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

Briskman, who worked in marketing and communications at Akima for just over six months, said she emphasized to the executives that she wasn’t on the job when the incident happened and that her social media pages don’t mention her employer. They told her that because Akima was a government contractor, the photo could hurt their business, she said.

Virginia is an employment-at-will state, meaning employers can fire people anytime and for any reason. But Briskman said what’s been particularly infuriating is that a male colleague kept his job after recently posting lewd comments on his Facebook page that featured Akima LLC as his cover photo. She said this colleague was reprimanded for calling someone “a fucking Libtard asshole” on Facebook, but was allowed to delete the post and keep his job.

“How is that any less ‘obscene’ than me flipping off the president?” she asked. “How is that fair?”

Akima did not respond to requests for comment via email and phone.

Juli Briskman
Someone posted this graphic on Juli Briskman's Facebook page after she flipped off the president's motorcade. Briskman was amused.

Asked what she was thinking when she saw Trump’s motorcade roll up next to her, Briskman said it was a gut reaction to flip him off.

“He was passing by and my blood just started to boil,” she said. “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.

Briskman, a Democrat, said she plans to look for a new job with an advocacy group that she believes in, like Planned Parenthood or PETA.

Despite getting fired, she said she has no regrets about the attention her public show of displeasure with Trump received. In fact, she said she’s happy to be an image of protest that resonates with many Americans.

“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.”

UPDATE: 11:54 a.m. Monday ― Akima’s website went down later Monday. Here’s a screenshot.

UPDATE: 11:41 a.m. Tuesday ― Briskman’s friends have started a GoFundMe campaign to help her raise money while she looks for a new job.



Women Protesting Throughout American History

1 1909
Universal History Archive via Getty Images
2 1912
Bettmann via Getty Images
3 1912
Chicago History Museum via Getty Images
4 1913
Paul Thompson/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
5 1918
Buyenlarge via Getty Images
6 1919
Universal History Archive/Getty Images
7 1920
Bettmann via Getty Images
8 1937
New York Times Co. via Getty Images
9 1935
Bettmann via Getty Images
10 1938
George Rinhart via Getty Images
11 1946
Keystone-France via Getty Images
12 1946
Jonathan Kirn/Corbis/Getty Images
13 1947
Bettmann via Getty Images
14 1949
Bettmann via Getty Images
15 1951
- via Getty Images
16 1954
Bettmann via Getty Images
17 Circa 1960s
Bettmann via Getty Images
18 1961
Bettmann via Getty Images
19 1963
Afro Newspaper/Gado via Getty Images
20 1963
Dick DeMarsico/World Telegram and Sun/Universal History Archive/Getty Images
21 1965
George Crouter via Getty Images
22 1965
UPI/Bettmann/Getty Images
23 1965
Bettmann via Getty Images
24 1967
Bettmann via Getty Images
25 1967
Bettmann via Getty Images
26 1967
Bettmann via Getty Images
27 1968
Harvey Silver via Getty Images
28 1968
New York Post Archives via Getty Images
29 1968
Hulton Archive via Getty Images
30 1969
David Fenton/Getty Images
31 1969
Wally McNamee via Getty Images
32 1969
David Fenton via Getty Images
33 1969
Archive Photos via Getty Images
34 1969
David Fenton via Getty Images
35 Circa 1970s
Cincinnati Museum Center via Getty Images
36 1970
Keystone via Getty Images
37 1971
Bettmann via Getty Images
38 1973
Bettmann via Getty Images
39 1974
Barbara Freeman via Getty Images
40 1975
New York Post Archives via Getty Images
41 1976
Barbara Freeman via Getty Images
42 Circa 1977
Peter Keegan via Getty Images
43 Circa 1978
Erika Stone via Getty Images
44 1979
Barbara Alper via Getty Images
45 1984
Boston Globe via Getty Images
46 1989
Mark Reinstein via Getty Images
47 1993
Mark Reinstein via Getty Images
48 1995
Evan Agostini via Getty Images
49 1999
Karie Hamilton via Getty Images
50 2000
MANNY CENETA via Getty Images
51 2003
mark peterson via Getty Images
52 2003
Stefan Zaklin via Getty Images
53 2004
MCT via Getty Images
54 2004
Ramin Talaie via Getty Images
55 2004
Chris Hondros via Getty Images
56 2005
Win McNamee via Getty Images
57 2005
DON EMMERT via Getty Images
58 2007
MANNIE GARCIA via Getty Images
59 2008
Win McNamee via Getty Images
60 2011
Andrew Burton via Getty Images
61 2011
Mario Tama via Getty Images
62 2016
KENA BETANCUR via Getty Images
63 2016
JASON REDMOND via Getty Images
64 2017
Bloomberg via Getty Images
65 2017
66 2017
Mario Tama via Getty Images
67 2017
NurPhoto via Getty Images
68 2017
JASON REDMOND via Getty Images
69 2017
Boston Globe via Getty Images
70 2017
DON EMMERT via Getty Images
71 2017
Brazil Photo Press/CON via Getty Images