#FreeBritney, the movement that saved the life of the pop princess

AFP

Many of the members of the #FreeBritney movement, created in 2009 by one of her fans to protest against the tutelage that was imposed on the singer after starring in a series of episodes in 2007 that questioned her mental health, never thought that the worst her suspicions about what the artist lived under the control of her father, Jaime Spears, were a reality.

“It was shocking and scary. A part of me had always wanted to be wrong, at least in the darkest details, "the co-founder of the #FreeBritney movement in Los Angeles, Simmons Leanne, confessed to the American newspaper The Guardian, after the singer made public in a hearing carried out on June 23 of this year, the abuse he was subjected to in the last two years by the people in charge of his personal and professional life.

And it is that for the first time, after 13 years under the control of her father, Britney reveals part of her life under the guardianship imposed since 2008 by a Los Angeles court. “Basically a lot has happened in the last two years (…) I wrote all this,” said the artist before beginning to read, virtually, her testimony before Judge Brenda Penny.

From non-stop work, compulsory medication, to birth control

The story that the pop princess has made public about her situation under guardianship is part of her last musical tour in 2018, in which she denounces having been forced to do it by Larry Rudolph, her manager for more than 25 years.

“I was on tour in 2018. I was forced. My manager said that if I didn't do this tour I would have to find a lawyer (…) He handed me a sheet of paper when I got off the stage in Las Vegas and said I had to sign it. It was very threatening and scary. And with the guardianship, I couldn't even get my own lawyer. So out of fear, I went ahead and did the job. "

However, he says that when the tour ended "a new show was supposed to take place in Las Vegas", which he had been doing for a while, and he started rehearsing even though he needed a break. "It was difficult because I had been doing the Las Vegas (show) for four years and needed a break in between."

“I rehearsed four days a week,” Britney says, however, she reported that her manager accused her of not participating in the rehearsals and of not taking her medication.

A week after this conversation, the singer points out, her manager tells her that if she did not want to do the new Las Vegas show, she did not have to do it, however, she says that her therapist at that time, Dr. Benson, contacted she three days later to tell him that they had called to tell him that she was not cooperating, that she was not following the guidelines in the trials and that she was not taking her medication.

Following this, her doctor takes away the medications she had been taking for five years and forces her to take lithium, a drug that Britney describes as "very, very strong and completely different from what she was used to."

"You can suffer a mental disability if you take too much (lithium), if you take it for more than five months," said the singer. I felt drunk. I couldn't even have a conversation with my mom or dad about anything. I told him I was scared. They put me with six different nurses who came to my house and stayed with me to control me with this new medicine, which I never wanted to take to begin with, ”he denounced.

Regarding the reaction of his family, he said that “not only did he not do a damn thing”, but that his father “totally agreed”, adding that during his two weeks of vacation, a woman went to his house for four hours a day to do a series of psychological tests, which, according to her father "did not pass" and was admitted to a "small rehab program" in a house in Beverly Hills.

In that place, Britney says, she had to work "seven days a week, with no days off," noting that in California, "the only thing similar to this is called sex trafficking." "Making anyone work against their will, taking away all their belongings and placing them in a house where they work with the people who live with them" is the closest thing to sex trafficking.

With those hours, she said, she was unable to see her children or her boyfriend. "Anyone involved in this guardianship and my administration, who played a key role in punishing me, should be in jail," Britney urged the judge and, in that sense, continued:

“I want changes in the future. I deserve changes. They told me I had to sit down and be evaluated again. Ma'am, I didn't know you could (challenge) guardianship. I'm sorry for my ignorance, but I honestly didn't know. But honestly, I don't think I owe anyone to be evaluated. I have done more than enough. I don't feel like I should be in the room with someone who offends me trying to question my intelligence ability, whether I need to be in this stupid guardianship or not. I have done more than enough, "she said, adding that she feels in a" shameful and demoralizing "situation, and that this was the main reason why he had not dared to present his case publicly.

"I didn't want to say it publicly because, honestly, I didn't think anyone would believe me," she said.

“I'm not lying, I just want my life back, and it's been 13 years and that's enough. It has been a long time since I am not the owner of my money and it is my wish and my dream that all this ends without having to be evaluated one more time ", the singer asked the judge Penny, at the same time that she suggested being able to sue her family .

“I would also like to be able to share my story with the world and what they did to me, instead of it being a secret to benefit everyone (…) I have been so angry. I cry every day (…) They tell me that I can't expose the people who did this to me, ”she said.

In her testimony, Britney also reported being forced to go to therapy three times a week in an office located in Westlake, a highly populated area of ​​the city of Los Angeles, where she feels exposed. “It is shameful and demoralizing. I deserve privacy when I go and do therapy, whether at home, as I have done for eight years. " And she revealed that her former therapist, now deceased, Dr. Benson, abused her because of the treatment he gave her. "It's not okay to force me to do something I don't want to do (...) I should be able to sue them."

In her 20-minute statement, she also stated that if she can work and employ other people, guardianship does not make sense. "Whoever is in the guardianship (is) making money (...) The guardianship should end (...)," she added.

On the other hand, she denounced that she cannot see her friends who live eight minutes from her residence, “which is extremely strange to me (…)”, and that she feels as if she were living in a rehabilitation program. “I wish my boyfriend could drive me and I want to meet with a therapist once a week, not twice a week, at my house. I would like to progress and I want to have a real deal, I want to be able to get married and have a baby, ”Spears exclaimed.

She added that while under guardianship she could not marry or have a baby. “I have an IUD inside of me right now so I don't get pregnant. I wanted to remove the IUD so I could start trying to have another baby. But this supposed team won't let me go to the doctor to get him out because they don't want me to have any more children. Basically, this guardianship is doing me much more harm than good, ”she denounced.

“I deserve to have a life. I have worked my whole life. I deserve to have a two or three year break and, you know, do what I want to do (…) I deserve to have the same rights as anyone, to have a child, a family, any of those things and more ”.

From a fan club, to a movement against Spears' tutelage

Although the movement against the guardianship of Britney Spears began in 2009. Her fan Jordan miller, founder and creator of one of the sites with the most followers of the pop star, BreatheHeavy.com, was one of the pioneers; The hashtag #FreeBritney, which symbolizes on social media support for the artist's release, took hold only ten years later, in 2019, after it became public that the singer had been admitted against her will to a center mental health.

Tess barker y Barbara gray, two American comedians who created in 2017 the Britney´s Gram Podcast, which consists of discussing and analyzing Britney Spears' publications on her Instagram account under the strict terms of the singer's tutelage that the New York Times made public in 2016, they received in April 2019, amid speculation about the artist's whereabouts, a voicemail from a person identified as a former member of the pop star's legal team, confirming the artist's forcible admission to a psychiatric hospital.

According to the source, who was quoted in a magazine article Rolling Stone, Britney's father canceled a concert in Las Vegas because the singer had refused to take her medication; that the artist was held in a mental health center against her will since January XNUMX after violating a rule that prohibited her from driving; and that her guardianship was originally supposed to end in XNUMX.

The comedians included these statements in a podcast they called FreeBritney and, with this publication, the #FreeBritney movement gained strength that year, according to Rolling Stone magazine.

Lynne Spears, Britney's mother and Jamie Spears' ex-wife, “liked” several posts containing the FreeBritney hashtag on social media. Also, at a concert in Memphis, United States, on May 4 of that year, the singer Miley Cyrus shouted "Free Britney" while singing her hit "Party in the USA", which recognizes Spears in the lyrics.

"A lot of people in the entertainment industry came to us afterward," Barker revealed to Rolling Stone, recounting what happened in the days after the podcast episode "#FreeBritney" was released.

Barker and Gray met with other #FreeBritney fans on May 10 outside of Stanley Mosk court in Los Angeles, the same day a hearing on the status of Spears's guardianship would be held. At that hearing, the judge in charge of the case, Brenda Penny, ordered a “detailed evaluation” of the guardianship.

That year Jodi Montgomery, a social worker who is dedicated to acting on behalf of other people in their finances, temporarily replaced Jamie Spears as the artist's tutor, allegedly due to the temporary resignation of the singer's father that year, who alleged health problems.

In August 2020, Samuel D. Ingham III, Britney's court-appointed attorney since 2008, unveiled the pop princess's desire to modify her guardianship, including, among other measures, Montgomery's tenure as her guardian and the idea that he would replace her father as her financial manager.

In response, the judge extended the agreement for Montgomery to remain as a guardian until February 2021, and in November 2020 she approved the Bessemer Trust, a financial fund to oversee the artist's estate along with her father.

But in February 2021, the New York Times premiered Framing Britney Spears, a documentary that focuses on the tutelage of Spears and explores the #FreeBritney movement, which affects the sum of more support for the singer.

Britney Spears: "They saved my life"

The hearing of June 23, 2021, in which Britney makes public some details of the abuse to which she was subjected during the last two years and in which she asks the judge of her case to be able to hire a lawyer to end this figure legal entity that controls her personal life and finances, further intensified the campaign to support the #FreeBritney movement, in which more celebrities joined to openly demand the release of the singer.

Samuel D. Ingham, who had been the singer's public defender since 2008, and her manager, Larry Rudolph, resigned within weeks of the artist's public testimony. Likewise, at the next hearing, which was held on July 14, Judge Penny allowed the star to hire her own lawyer, a management that prohibited guardianship, so that she could represent her in the battle against this legal control figure.

At the next hearing, on September 29, 2021, the judge decided to suspend Jamie Spears as supervisor of her daughter's estate, estimated at $ 60 million, and appointed a temporary replacement until December 31, 2021, an accountant of her legal team, John Zabel. A second triumph for the singer.

“# FreeBritney Movement… I have no words… For you and your constant resistance to free me from my tutelage… My life is now going in that direction !!!!! I cried for two hours last night because my fans are the best and I know it… ", the singer wrote on her Instagram account to celebrate this achievement, which she attributes to the support received by the campaign for her release.

And as expected, on November 12, the decision that Britney and her fans wanted to finally arrive is announced in a hearing, Brenda Penny accepts the singer's request to end her guardianship of more than 13 years.

That day, hundreds of fans who stood outside court in support of the singer celebrated pink dresses by raising flags with the hashtag #FreeBritney.

"My God, I love my fans so much it's crazy," Spears wrote on her Instagram account along with the video of the celebration. «I think I'm going to cry the rest of the day !!!! The best day of my life… praise the Lord… can I get an amen ???? # FreedBritney #, the artist wrote on her Instagram account.

Likewise, in a video that she also published on this same social network, Britney says that her voice was silenced and threatened for a long time, and that she could not speak or say anything, but that thanks to her fans, “as if she knew what was happening "And by making it public" for so long, "it generated a collective conscience. "And thanks to you, I honestly think you saved my life."

And it is that the followers of Spears, organized under the #FreeBritney movement, were for years asking for the guardianship to be eliminated.

The New York Times documentary features a former employee of Black Box, a security company hired by Spears' father, who denounces that the company infiltrated the movement to investigate him. Megan Radford, #FreeBritney activist and co-director of @freebritneyla. [email protected] told The Guardian that she and others had long suspected that they were being monitored considering how much money was at stake in the singer's guardianship.

While Junior Olivas, who helped organize the first demonstration of Spears supporters outside the court in April 2019, told The Guardian that the surveillance reports would not intimidate the activists: “We have come this far. We are not going to let anyone stop us. We are going to do what we set out to do from the beginning ”.

Organizing to support Britney and ending her guardianship was a full-time job for many #FreeBritney advocates, The Guardian reports. “They coordinated rallies, worked on marketing for the cause, and traveled across the country to attend demonstrations outside the courthouse.

"Every time I thought it was too much or didn't have time in the back of my head I thought, 'She's being silenced," Megan Radford, a longtime Oklahoma-based advocate for #FreeBritney, told The Guardian. “Britney was being silenced for years and years and years. I really believe that without the movement she would not get out of the guardianship ”.

The Britney Spears guardianship case went all the way to the United States Senate, where a hearing was held on "toxic guardianships." Also, in January of this year, Netflix premiered “Don't worry, I take care of you”, A fictional film in which it is exposed how these guardianships can be a very lucrative business for those who hold them, to the detriment of the lives of the people affected.

Guardianships, which are appointed by courts in the United States, are intended for people who can no longer make decisions for themselves, usually the elderly and the sick. Britney Spears was the subject of this type of legal settlement after facing mental health problems while going through a divorce, with two young children, and was harassed by the paparazzi.

In 2007 Britney was recorded by paparazzi shaving her hair in a Los Angeles hair salon

An image shaving her hair at a Los Angeles barber shop, and another hitting a photojournalist's vehicle with an umbrella went around the world. California lawmakers recently passed a bill that gives wards the right to choose their own attorney.

 

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