Before you begin cheering too loudly, I’ll warn you in advance that this is a problematic story. It deals with two residents of New York City who went for a tour of the Statue of Liberty. They opted to wear t-shirts which they had crafted themselves with the liberal catchphrase “Abolish ICE” on them. Upon their arrival at the monument, they were met with an unpleasant surprise. (Gothamist)
A pair of New Yorkers hoping to pay a visit to the Statue of Liberty last month say they were ordered by federal employees to change out of their “Abolish ICE” t-shirts before approaching the monument. When the couple refused, security guards escorted them out of line for their pre-paid tour—a decision that the National Park Service now admits was a “misstep,” and one that qualifies as illegal viewpoint discrimination, according to the NYCLU.
Tiffany Huang tells Gothamist that she’d never been to the statue before, and received tickets from her fiancé as a birthday gift back in June. In light of President Trump’s family separation policy, the couple “felt we needed to acknowledge the symbolism of visiting the Statue of Liberty,” says Huang. They decided to do so by wearing homemade shirts emblazoned with the “Abolish ICE” slogan.
Huang and her partner were met by National Park Service security personnel and told to either change their shirts or cover them up with some other clothing. When they refused, they were pulled from the line and sent packing.
If you find yourself smiling after reading that story… I get it. I’m as sick of the entire “Abolish ICE” nonsense as anyone and don’t feel the people promoting that message need to be honored or celebrated in any way. But this is a government monument with government employees guarding it and controlling access. If you want to go hound public officials eating in a restaurant and see them kicked out as you scream at them about ICE, enjoy your freedom of speech. As much as I may think it makes you a Jerkstore level jerk and despite the fact that I may wind up using my own free speech to call you an idiot, I won’t deny you your rights. But this is the government. They can’t shut people out of a public monument based on their political views.
I realize that the security officers may have been on edge after that other idiot tried to scale the Statue of Liberty in protest this summer. They were probably concerned that Huang and her friend were there to try something similar. But until one of them actually did something to break the rules, the government needed to treat them like any other citizen or legal visitor coming for a tour of the monument.
The good news is that the situation appears to have been resolved without the ACLU coming in to launch a lawsuit… yet, anyway. Huang and her friend were invited to come back for a tour and are supposed to do so today. And yes, they will be wearing their protest shirts. So you can expect that the liberal media will be there, ready to treat them like conquering heroes. Any satisfaction we may have derived from seeing them turned away will be canceled out by the positive press they and the “Abolish ICE” peanut gallery receive in exchange for what was really a minor inconvenience.