Gothamist reports that a couple wearing handcrafted “Abolish ICE” t-shirts were denied entry to the Statue of Liberty in July, a move that the National Park Service now says “never should’ve happened.” Yeah, no shit.
On July 14, Tiffany Huang and her fiancé were ready to embark on their pre-paid Statue Cruises from Lower Manhattan. They wore their “Abolish ICE” t-shirts because they wanted to “acknowledge the symbolism of visiting the Statue of Liberty” in the wake of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, which left thousands of asylum seeking parents separated from their children at the US-Mexico border.
But the two were stopped at the security checkpoint before they could even board the ferry.
“A second security person came over to tell us he couldn’t let us on the tour with our shirts,” recalled Huang. “He said it was our ‘choice’ to either change or put on clothes over our t-shirts, or leave. So we said we would rather leave, and another security person walked us back out through security.”
According to Huang, the two security guards cited “what happened on July 4th” as a justification for the ejection—presumably referring to Therese Patricia Okoumou, who was arrested after she scaled the Statue of Liberty and refused to leave until “all the children have been released.”
But Huang and her fiancé were simply wearing tees, not ready to scale a statue in an act of protest.
The New York Civil Liberties Union contacted the National Park Service, which admitted that blocking Huang and her fiancé from the Statue of Liberty was a form of “viewpoint discrimination.”
Jerry Willis, spokesperson for the National Park Service, told Gothamist that, “It was certainly a misstep on our part and we’re happy that the couple has elected to take up our invitation to come back.” However, when asked whether the officials who hassled Huang and her fiancé would face disciplinary action, Willis said that the agency is unable to identify them.
Meanwhile, Statue Cruises—which has a contract with the National Park service—has given the couple their money back, and that’s about it. Rafael Abreu said that he’s never heard of an incident like this happening before.
Huang and her fiancé plan to visit the Statue of Liberty on August 17, rocking their “Abolish ICE” shirts once more. Hopefully nobody hounds them about it this time.