She lost her job because of her gesture. Now, she’s an elected official, and her office oversees Trump’s personal golf course.
Juli Briskman was cycling down a road in Loudoun County, Virginia in October 2017 when she spotted a motorcade whisking president Donald Trump to destinations unknown.
Briskman did the first thing that popped into her head: she threw her middle finger in the air and flipped off the president. An image, captured by a White House photographer, promptly went viral and Briskman, who was then working as a government contractor for Akima LLC in Virginia, was fired from her job for violating the company’s social media policy.
“They said, ‘We’re separating from you,’” Briskman said told The Huffington Post at the time. “Basically, you cannot have ‘lewd’ or ‘obscene’ things in your social media. So they were calling flipping him off ‘obscene’.” A GoFundMe launched after Briskman lost her job raised more than $100,000 for her, with organisers calling Briskman’s protest “an inspiration to us all”. (Briskman later sued her former employer and won a severance claim.)
Today, Briskman has found new employment – as an elected official after being voted into a seat on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. The very same county in which Trump’s golf club is located.
Briskman has said that her moment of viral presidential protest, and subsequent firing, served as her motivation to enter politics. She first started working at a polling booth before working on a congressional campaign for Jennifer Wexton.
But this year she launched a campaign of her own, standing for a seat on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. She ran on a platform of community issues, given that she had lived in the county for 20 years and had been involved in local governance through scouts and the PTA.
“I didn’t necessarily want to lean on that [viral moment] because voters want to hear you talk about the issues that they care about,” she told NPR. “I did hear some people say ‘Oh thank God you’re a Democrat, I’ll vote for you no matter what’… If it did come up, the Trump administration, which it did – quite a bit – I did say ‘This is who I am, you might know me from this photograph.’ And a lot of people did and I think it helped a little bit. But mostly we focussed on the local issues and the gap between his current supervisor’s values and the values of her district.”
Speaking to NPR, Briskman added that the fact that she now holds an office that oversees Trump’s personal golf club “feels great”.
“It’s just interesting, the irony is fantastic,” she said, laughing. “The reason my photograph was taken is because I was cycling in my community. And his golf course happens to be in my community. It’s just awesome, I love the irony. I think it’s great.”