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Britney is freed — but the battle’s not over, say fans and activists

Early Friday morning, outside of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles, the first of hundreds of loyal Britney Spears fans — decked in wigs, glitter and costumes inspired by her music videos — anxiously awaited the fate of the international pop superstar, and the conservatorship that had her personal and professional life under the control of her father and a team of associates for more than 13 years.

By 2:30 p.m., Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny delivered the final blow: The conservatorship would be terminated, effective immediately.

“It’s official,” shouted a #FreeBritney organizer from a megaphone. “Britney’s free!”

Outside the courthouse, the pop star’s attorney, Mathew Rosengart, powered through a post-hearing press conference amid a mass scream-along of Spears’ 2000 fight song, “Stronger,” led by a throng of triumphant fans.

“Britney, as of today, is a free woman and she’s an independent woman,” said Rosengart, circled by reporters and activists in pink “We’ve Freed Britney” shirts. “The rest, with her support system, will be up to Britney.”

Attorney Mathew Rosengart speaks to the media Friday after a Los Angeles judge formally ended the conservatorship that controlled Britney Spears’ life.

(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

Her attorney at one point said that he will pursue her father Jamie Spears’ deposition, if that’s what she wants. “[His lawyers] have not responded to one document request. They have no responded to one interrogatory. And they refused thus far to appear for deposition under oath,” Rosengart said.

“The most notable question that we’ve asked on behalf of Britney, of Tri Star, is the following very simple question: How much money did you take from the estate? How much money did you receive from the estate? They have refused to answer that question,” Rosengart added.

“You’re a hero!” shouted a fan in the crowd.

Britney Spears fans dance and cheer

#FreeBritney supporters sing and dance on Grand Avenue outside Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Friday.

(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

A block away from the courthouse press conference, revelers wept, hugged and popped canisters of pink confetti while blasting their favorite Britney Spears songs from a loudspeaker. Still, through tears, they were determined to — as Spears’ 2011 song goes — “keep on dancing ‘til the world ends.”

Local #FreeBritney activist Jared Lipscomb said he attended his first hearing with other #FreeBritney organizers in 2019. “Back then we were considered conspiracy theorists,” said Lipscomb, 33. “Britney gave me permission to feel OK in my queer skin. I’m here because I love Britney Spears, and I also love human rights!”

Marching down Grand Avenue, a group of fans chanted slogans like “Britney’s body, Britney’s choice,” and “Conservatorships have got to go!”

It was the first #FreeBritney rally — not to mention first protest ever — for many fans, who traveled from as far as Mexico to celebrate the pop star’s legal victory in person.

“If I’m gonna show up to her concert, why wouldn’t I show up to support her on the streets of Los Angeles?” said Frankie, 35, who declined to provide her last name. She raised a menacing sign aimed at Spears’ father, and now ex-conservator: “You better run, b*tch!”

Many Spears supporters, while elated by the news, hope the justice system will dig deeper on the larger apparatus that they say enabled her father in controlling her estate for 13 years. Many brought signs calling for an investigation of Spears’ former business manager, Lou M. Taylor, chief executive of the business management firm Tri Star Sports and Entertainment Group.

“I’m here because I’m a fan, but this case also educated me on conservatorship abuse,” said Alexandra Beck, 25, who flew in from Maryland Thursday night and waved a pink “Free Britney” flag that measured as long as she is tall. “That this could happen to the queen of pop, it’s gotta be a bigger problem.”

People holding signs supporting Britney Spears celebrate

Britney Spears supporters celebrate in downtown Los Angeles on Friday.

(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

Amid cheers and cries of relief, many fans insisted that the battle isn’t over — especially not for disability rights activists, who gave impassioned speeches detailing the limited human rights of elderly people, as well as those living with disabilities.

Travis Campbell, the eldest son of the Grammy-winning country legend Glen Campbell — famous for hits like “Rhinestone Cowboy” — said his father spent his final years under a guardianship under the supervision of his fourth wife and was made to perform against his will, despite being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

“He was put on a farewell concert tour for 15 months … and she pocketed all the money,” said Travis Campbell, who is a board member of the Kasem Cares Foundation, named after the late DJ and actor Casey Kasem, which advocates for laws against elder abuse.

“You guys are the voice of change,” said Trudy Campbell, wife of Travis. “No more withdrawals from the bank of Britney!”

Despite the somber subject matter, fans continued to boost morale by performing choreography from their favorite Spears performances. “We’re gonna do it like Britney did her 2003 ABC special,” said a dancer while gyrating to the “In The Zone” cut “Toxic.” Others exchanged numbers and took photos next to a pink Christmas tree, adorned with ornaments and encouraging messages to Britney.

“Where are we celebrating tonight?” asked one fan to another.

Shouted a jubilant young fan, barreling out of the crowd in platform boots: “Party in West Hollywood!”

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