Independence Day became a day of protest today as U.S. Parks Police evacuated tourists from Liberty Island, the site of the Statue of Liberty, after the activist organization Rise and Resist unfurled a banner at the base of the pedestal that the statue stands upon calling for the abolition of ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
At least six people were taken into custody according to the Associated Press and charged with violating federal regulations that prohibit hanging banners from the monument.
One woman, who may not be part of the protest group, climbed up from the pedestal to the base of the statue where she continues to defy police trying to coax her down. New York City police have reportedly dispatched a helicopter to the scene.
Visitors to the statue were evacuated by ferry and boats on their way to the island were turned back as the events unfolded.
“We’ve had two unusual events occur back-to-back,” National Park Service spokesman Jerry Willis told WABC-TV in New York. “So for the safety and security of our visitors, we decided to evacuate for the day.”
“It’s our busiest week of the year, historically,” Willis continued. “The island at this time of the day is mostly near capacity, at 4,000 to 4,500 people. All boats have been tasked will moving people off the island. We have an evacation plan. Given the heat of the day, the visitors complied with no issues.”
The Statue of Liberty is a potent symbol of the welcome that America traditionally afforded immigrants in the pre-Trump era, particularly with the inscription of the poem “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus that is attached to its base.
“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!”
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) July 4, 2018
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.