Skip to navigationSkip to content
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty
A solitary, rolling protest.

The “obscene” photo that got a Trump protestor fired

Johnny Simon
By Johnny Simon


Juli Briskman gave the middle finger to Donald Trump as his motorcade passed her on her bike in Sterling, Virginia last Friday (Oct. 28).

A photo taken from behind by AFP photographer Brendan Smialowski shows Briskman’s impromptu protest as black Secret Service SUVs maneuver around her bike.

The single image quickly took on a life of its own.  The power of the image, it seemed, was its catharsis. Every day, the internet is filled with people saying whatever they please about Donald Trump, but few get to deliver it right to his motorcade window.

Nevertheless, this one cost Briskman her job.

Briskman told her version of the timeline to the Huffington Post:

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.’”

Akima, a holding company of multiple construction, technology and operations firms, does work with the US government. Despite losing her job, Briskman said she is not sorry for expressing herself, and looks forward to working as an advocate for causes more aligned with her politics in the future, such as Planned Parenthood and PETA, she told the Huffington Post.

“It was an opportunity for me to say something,” she told them.

Subscribe to the Daily Brief, our morning email with news and insights you need to understand our changing world.

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.