Why Are Fans Trying to "Free" Britney Spears?
Her sister, Jamie Lynn, seems to have fired back at the #FreeBritney movement.
On Monday afternoon, a group of protestors gathered outside of City Hall in West Hollywood, Calif., holding signs reading "Free Britney," and "Truth Will Set Her Free," all while chanting "hands off Britney" and "justice for Britney." Variety reports that a dozen fans were in attendance at the protest, which was organized to demand the singer's release from a mental health facility. It's their belief that Spears is being held against her will at the facility, and is being kept from making her own decisions.
Earlier this month, it was reported that Spears had checked herself into a mental health facility in order to deal with emotional distress. At the time, sources said that she was expected to remain in treatment for 30 days, and while the pop star herself did not directly comment on the matter, she posted an Instagram about needing "me time" when the news came out.
Her loved ones also seemingly weighed in on the news: boyfriend Sam Asghari reposted the Instagram photo, writing that he was "inspired" by her, and sister Jamie Lynn posted a throwback photo of herself with Spears in a show of support.
A source told People that Spears's decision was in part influenced by her father's health struggle, and the emotional toll it took on her.
ET reports that after Spears checked into the facility, an episode of the fan podcast Britney's Gram discussed allegations that the singer was being kept against her will, and the hashtag #FreeBritney began trending on social media. A report from earlier this week, however, claims that the podcast's hosts have been reported to the FBI after fans expressed concern that the podcast violated the singer's privacy. (The podcast's Twitter account posted messages on Sunday asking fans not to "cross boundaries.")
Last week, former Extra producer Carlo De Santis tweeted a photo of himself with the singer, writing, “Remember that time @britneyspears’ dad had me banned from ever working with her again because I didn’t ask HIM for permission to [post] a photo she HERSELF consented to? Yeah, #FREEBRITNEY." Page Six reported that Extra host Mario Lopez replied to the tweet, saying, "Hahaha I remember!” but that tweet seems to have been deleted.
Much has also been made over Spears's father, Jamie, being her conservator. A conservatorship is a legal concept in which someone is thought to be unable to care for himself or herself, and an adult with a relationship to them is appointed to manage their affairs. According to the New York Times, she's in a conservatorship in which her father oversees her personal life and finances while Andrew M. Wallet, a lawyer, is a co-conservator of her estate. E! reports that the two have been her conservators since Spears's dual emergency hospitalizations in January 2008.
During Monday's protest, which was livestreamed on YouTube, fans also shouted, "Hey, ho, Larry Rudolph has got to go!" suggesting that her longtime manager was the one who made the decision to put her in the mental health facility.
Over the Easter weekend, Spears was seen taking a break from treatment with Asghari, as the two spent time together in Beverly Hills. Before that, she was also seen having her hair done at an L.A. salon, and a source told People that she was encouraged to keep up with her usual routines while in treatment.
In an Instagram post on Monday night, Jamie Lynn Spears seemed to shut down the Free Britney movement. She posted an old video of herself firing back at paparazzi on the street yelling at Britney, writing, "10 years ago, who was there?? I have been here long before anyone else, and I’ll be here long after. I love my sister with everything I have. So, anyone or anything that speaks to the contrary can GTFOH with all the comments about what you don’t understand. Do not come for me or the ones I love anymore."
A rep for Spears declined to comment directly on the matter.