The cyclist at the center of a viral photo that saw her flip the bird at President Donald Trump’s motorcade was terminated by her employer because of the controversial pic, which her ex-boss allegedly described as “obscene.”
The pic, which was snapped by photographer Brendan Smialowski for Agence France-Presse and Getty Images, shows 50-year-old Juli Briskman giving a one-finger salute to the presidential motorcade as it made its way past her in Northern Virginia late last month, the Washington Post reported.
While the photo quickly started to make the rounds as soon as it was uploaded, it wasn’t until Halloween that Briskman told her bosses at Akima, a government contracting firm, that she was the mysterious bird-flipper on the bicycle. They did not approve.
“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.’”
Sure enough, Section 4.3 of the company’s social media policy spells it out pretty clearly.
“Covered Social Media Activity that contains discriminatory, obscene malicious or threatening content, is knowingly false, create[s] a hostile work environment, or similar inappropriate or unlawful conduct will not be tolerated and will be subject to discipline up to an[d] including termination of employment,” the policy reads.
Briskman argued that the photo should not have landed her in hot water because there was nothing linking her to Akima. She was not wearing any article of clothing in the picture to tie her to her employer, Briskman said, nor did her Twitter or Facebook – where Briskman used it as her profile picture – anywhere state that she worked for Akima.
According to Briskman, the incident was not meant to be a calculated political protest. Instead, it was an impulsive gesture that reflected her opinion of Trump.
“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.’”