Earlier today, a group of protestors unfurled a large banner reading “Refugees Welcome” on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. A Twitter account, Alt Lady Liberty, began posting photos from the monument this afternoon, and noted that “patriots unfurled a massive banner at the foot of Lady Liberty.”
The National Parks Service confirmed to Curbed that the banner was placed on the Statue, and other photos taken today show the enormous sign stretched across the bottom of the monument. As of right now, it’s unclear who was behind the banner, or how it was placed on the statue in the first place.
The Statue of Liberty has become a symbol of sorts for protestors in the weeks since the Trump administration took office, particularly in the wake of the executive order that banned travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, as well as halting the arrival of Syrian refugees.
Since its placement in New York Harbor in 1886, Lady Liberty has been a beacon for new arrivals to the United States, thanks to the inclusion of Emma Lazarus’s poem “The New Colossus,” which is inscribed on a plaque within the monument.
Lazarus’s piece, which was “inspired by her own Sephardic Jewish heritage, her experiences working with refugees on Ward's Island, and the plight of the immigrant” (according to the National Park Service) is most famous for these lines:
"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Those particular lines have served as a rallying cry for protestors, as well as for elected officials—Governor Andrew Cuomo even added a Post-It with Lazarus’s words on the famous Subway Therapy wall before it was removed late last year.
Update: A representative for the folks behind the Alt Lady Liberty Twitter account sent Curbed this statement:
The banner was hung today at about 12:45 PM. There were four people involved in hanging it. We have no group, but are just private citizens who feel that the principles that make America great are under attack. We wanted to send a reminder about the America we believe in.
The National Park Service has issued the following statement regarding today’s action:
At approximately 12:50 PM this afternoon, a banner reading “Refugees Welcome” was unfurled atop the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. The banner, approximately 3 feet by 20 feet, was affixed by nylon rope to the wall of the public observation deck at the base of the Statue. Rangers, alerted to the presence of the banner, immediately made their way to the location and conducted an assessment of the banner and how it was attached to the monument. It was determined that the banner could be removed without damaging the pedestal and Rangers began the process of removing it. Affixing a banner to the national monument is strictly prohibited, and an investigation is underway by the United States Park Police to identify suspects.
"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door." -Emma Lazarus . . #freedom #ladyliberty #statueofliberty #refugeeswelcome #nyc #newyorkcity #touristforaday #mycity #emmalazarus #poem #torch