Just hours after the Department of Homeland Security laid out Trump administration’s aggressive strategy for mass deportation of undocumented immigrants, a small group of activists unfurled a massive banner across the base of the Statue of Liberty to spread a powerful message of acceptance and hope.
The sign, fastened by a nylon rope to the public observation deck at the base of the monument, measured about three feet high and 20 feet wide.
It read, “Refugees Welcome.”
The words were not out of context, particularly in these troubling times. In fact, it served as a poignant statement against President Donald Trump’s divisive policies targeting refugees – particularly those fleeing the civil war in Syria.
A social media account named “Alt Statue of Liberty” claimed responsibility for the act.
“This was first conceived in response to what’s been called the ‘travel ban’ of the Trump administration, which I think flies in the face of the founding principals of the United States,” one of the activists behind the banner, who only identified himself as David, told Fusion’s Rafi Schwartz. “I think the Statue of Liberty is our best symbol of the role that immigrants have played and continue to play every day in this country.”
After a federal court struck down Trump administration’s controversial ban targeting travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries and indefinitely barring Syrian immigrants from entering the country, the White House proposed to alter the executive order.
“We have no formal group — just private citizens who felt like we needed to say something about the America we believe in,” another unnamed activist told NBC News. “Speaking personally — my grandparents met in a refugee camp after WWII, and my mother immigrated. So this touches close to home. But almost every American knows an immigrant or a refugee. We wanted to send a reminder about America when we're at our best — the country that's a beacon of freedom to the world, built by immigrants. Walling off countries or entire religions is against our values.”
The photos of the banner soon began trending on the internet.
oh thank you, whoever did this pic.twitter.com/BWQjFQPNbv— John Lurie (@lurie_john) February 21, 2017
the banner is like a TL;DR of 'bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free' https://t.co/YdoaLuRMb7— talia jane (@itsa_talia) February 21, 2017
Since it is illegal to drape banner across national monuments, the United States Park Rangers took it down over an hour later.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Brendan McDermid