Juli Briskman has been hailed as a hero and fired from her job for a spur-of-the moment demonstration that quickly spread around the world
Juli Briskman found flowers on her doorstep on Monday night. “Juli: I don’t know you and yet I am so proud of you,” an accompanying note said. “You’re my hero. Truly. Thank you for standing up to this admin. We need more like you. Continue to resist. We’re with you all the way. Sally M.”
Briskman does not know who Sally M is, but she knows what motivated the message. In the past week, she has received media calls from as far away as Colombia and Sweden as well as her share of hate mail. One told her: “I hope you get used to saying, ‘Do you want fries with that?’”
It is all because of a split-second decision that made Juli Briskman a hero of the resistance – and a case study in the wildly unpredictable effects of social media.
It was 3.12pm on Saturday 28 October when Donald Trump, after a round of golf, departed the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, northern Virginia. His motorcade, which included the Guardian and other journalists, overtook a female cyclist wearing a white top and cycling helmet, who responded by raising the middle finger of her left hand.
The fleet of vehicles swept on imperiously on but then slowed for a red light, and the cyclist caught up. She persisted. She flipped the bird a second time before turning right as the motorcade turned left.
A photo of her act of defiance took off on social media. The Washington Post called it “the middle-finger salute seen around the world”. The late-night TV host Stephen Colbert said: “No one has summed up the mood of the country better … Long may she wave.”
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