Britney Law Army’s Mission Is Keeping a Movement in the Know
For a certain subset of Britney Spears fans, who call themselves her “army,” there is no better cause than to emancipate Ms. Spears from the tutelage that controls her life and finances.
Thirteen years after the start of the legal arrangement, which Ms Spears recently described as ‘abusive’, her followers are watching a movement that was once on the fringes of pop culture turn into one of the biggest news of the year . Even politicians pay attention: “I am downright and unequivocal in the FreeBritney camp,” said Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz on his podcast this month.
The growing support for Ms Spears is a testament to the power of fan dedication, unleashed in the modern age via social media. The celebrity may be the most famous, but her followers, or stans (see: Barbz by Nicki Minaj, BeyHive by Beyoncé, Marine by Rihanna), have the power to mobilize thousands of people online to support a cause.
Some of Ms Spears’ most visible supporters have shown up for protests in Los Angeles, but many others have been following the pop star’s court case from their homes. For them, fan-run accounts on Twitter, Instagram and other platforms provided live updates, a global community, and advocacy ideas. (For example, the Free Britney website suggests filing a complaint against Ms Spears’ former lawyer and writing letters to representatives.)
“People from all walks of life are involved and know what’s going on and feel it’s abusive and feel it’s an injustice,” said Angela Rojas, a 30-year-old lawyer who is one of five people behind the account. @BritneyLawArmy. Ms. Rojas, who is Peruvian-American, is leading the account’s engagement efforts with Spanish speakers.
The other account administrators, all of whom live in and around Louisville, Ky., Are Samuel Nicholson, 30, and Marilyn Shrewsbury, 32, who are attorneys who focus on civil rights cases; their assistant, Raven Koontz, 23; and Emily Lagarenne, 34-year-old recruitment consultant.
Although Ms. Spears is the center of the account and the directors are her fans, they see her fight for emancipation as one that everyone should be able to empathize with. “This is about the human condition,” Ms. Rojas said. “It’s a question of human rights. It is a question of the rights of persons with disabilities. It is a question of civil rights.
Mr Nicholson, who created the Twitter account in January, has notifications on the Los Angeles Superior Court e-filing site that alert him whenever a document is filed. He and the others scour these documents for new details, which they translate from legal jargon into easy-to-understand takeaways.
In June, when Ms Spears first spoke before a judge about her desire to end guardianship, administrators at @BritneyLawArmy tweeted transcribed sections of the audio of her testimony.
The group also works with other social media accounts, like @FreeBritneyLA. “There are group chats and FaceTime calls, and a very organized effort to get everyone as much information as possible on all the pages,” said Ms Shrewsbury (who also bears her middle name, Linsey) .
Megan Radford, 34, described @BritneyLawArmy as “a really reliable source of information” on the court proceedings. “They explain court documents to people who aren’t lawyers,” said Ms. Radford, who helps manage the @FreeBritneyLA account and has hosted some of the #FreeBritney rallies in Los Angeles from her home in Oklahoma City.
Ms. Radford, Director of Marketing, travels regularly to Los Angeles to demonstrate. “This movement was founded by people sharing information on social media,” she said. “We’re not just fan accounts. We are definitely activists.
The tweets posted by @BritneyLawArmy are not purely informational; their purpose is also to encourage the military to move forward, to channel the frustrations and hopes of Ms. Spears’ supporters.
Sometimes the messages take on the tone of a fiercely loyal friend who is mad on behalf of a BFF. This anger may be directed against the judge in Ms Spears’ case (Brenda Penny), at the court-appointed lawyer of Ms Spears (Samuel D. Ingham III, who resigned from that post this month) or his father’s lawyer (Viviane Thoreen).
Nonetheless, there is a gravity in Law Army tweets, especially those that directly report Ms Spears’ comments or highlight court documents.
The group believes that the guardianship is at the end of its rope. “The game is over,” Nicholson said. “They can’t just send Britney Spears back on stage like nothing has happened.”
But they recognize that the process of freeing Ms Spears to live independently will likely take several months, if not years.
“We talk a lot about what we hope for her when she is free,” Ms. Shrewsbury said. “We just want to see her happy.”
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