Washington, D.C. — Supporters of the “Free Britney” movement and fans of pop artist Britney Spears gathered in the nation’s capitol to challenge conservatorship laws that have trapped the 39-year-old under her father’s guardianship for years.
Spears will appear in court again Wednesday for the first time since a scathing public reprimand against the court-arranged conservatorship and her father Jaime Spears, who has had sole conservatorship of her estimated $60 million estate for 13 years.
Llega a Washington el movimiento #FreeBritney, con el que fans de @britneyspears piden a la Justicia que ponga fin a 13 años de tutela financiera y personal que el padre de la artista ejerce sobre ella. La protesta en la capital coincide con el reinicio del juicio en Los Ángeles. pic.twitter.com/koTzwBg8w6
— Bricio Segovia (@briciosegovia) July 14, 2021
The rally, organized by Free Britney America, gathered to fight for “the end of the abusive conservatorship of Britney Jean Spears, and fight for conservatorship reform,” according to the group’s website. More than 25 supporters met, many holding signs, yielding flags, and wearing shirts professing their support for the singer.
“When I was younger, I didn’t understand what was going on,” said lifetime Britney fan Alyssa DelMonico. “Now growing up, hearing all over media, Instagram, and TikTok, that she doesn’t have any control over what she’s doing is so upsetting. As a kid, your parents say, ‘she’s fine,’ but you wake up one day and know she’s not fine — she has her rights taken away.”
Spears was put on the drug lithium against her will, doesn’t have full access to her financial estate, and is not allowed to reproduce. According to Spears, her conservatorship team won’t let her take out her IUD, a form of birth control, because they don’t want her to have more children.
“It’s easy to look at stars as just famous — what problems could they possibly have? Now I think about it and I’m so happy Britney came into our lives, but I feel so bad that she got famous. It all just backfired,” supporter Harley Mcgilynn said.
The star’s struggle has propelled many life-long fans into the fight, advocating against laws that have kept the adult under her father’s guardianship. One of those fans, Jeanne Jarvis-Gibson, explained her frustration.
“I’ve grown up as a Britney fan — hearing her testimony three weeks ago was just heartbreaking,” Jarvis-Gibson said. “The fact that she doesn’t have the rights to her own body, or reproductive rights — the conservatorship has control of all aspects of her life, financial and personal. She can’t have kids, she can’t get married, go out for a drive, and she only has a $2,000 allowance per week. The hope here is that she will get her own lawyer. And of course, conservatorship abuse is prevalent across the US. It’s more than just Britney.”
While the Free Britney movement is calling for an end to Spears’ conservatorship, it’s shed light on the 1.3 million adults who are also under conservatorships, according to the Department of Justice.
To young adults who grew up listening to Spears’ early hits like “Oops I Did It Again” or “Piece Of Me,” Spears’ brand was iconic, strong, and sexy. Now, Jarvis-Gibson said, it’s not so sexy. In a popular 2001 Video Music Awards performance, Spears carried a huge Albino Burmese Python snake on her shoulders. Jarvis-Gibson likened that image to one she saw shared to Instagram — only this time, the snake was wrapped around Spears’ neck.
“Every pop star changes, they’ll have their peak or fall,” she said. “But in this case, it’s not even about Britney coming back to music anymore. It’s about her human rights. As a brand new fan, I used to be so excited for new music and of course, if that happens, I would love it, but I really just want her to have her freedom.”
On Wednesday, a judge ruled that the pop star would be allowed her own attorney in the case. As Spears prepared for her second court appearance addressing the conservatorship case, it was clear she had supporters across the country. Mcgilynn added her surprise at the extensive coverage the media has given the case.
“We didn’t expect this much media,” she said, looking around at the reporters who almost outnumbered the protestors. “It’s great, though.”
Haley Strack is an intern at The Federalist and a student at Hillsdale College studying politics and journalism.