A New York couple attempting to tour the Statue of Liberty last month (July 14th) was refused entry because they were wearing “Abolish ICE” t-shirts.
Tiffany Huang was gifted the pre-paid tickets from her fiancé, in June, for her birthday—she’d never visited the statue before. In an interview with Gothamist, the couple said they, “felt we needed to acknowledge the symbolism of visiting the Statue of Liberty.” The couple said they were responding to President Trump’s family separation policy which has resulted in 2,000+ children being separated from their parents at the US border, according to Time .
They exercised their freedom of speech by wearing homemade t-shirts adorned with the “Abolish ICE” slogan, but federal employees at the security checkpoint ordered them to change out of them before touring the statue. When they refused, they were escorted out by security guards.
The couple told Gothamist:
We did not have any plans for any other sort of action—just exercising our right to free speech.
Here’s the story on Twitter:
Federal guards demanded couple change out of ‘Abolish ICE’ shirts at Statue of Liberty — then kicked them out https://t.co/LOTMu6yTOL
— Raw Story (@RawStory) August 16, 2018
Twitter wasn’t having it:
have they read what's printed on the statue of liberty?
— Bad Dog (@JLRees) August 16, 2018
Sounds like a perfect lawsuit.
— Carol GB (@abstractpatina) August 16, 2018
Do these “guards” still have a job? Exactly what law allows them to impose their views in this manner or for that matter ignore the 1st amendment? This is criminal.
— Michael Spears COL(USA RET) 마이클 스피어스 (@MP_Spears) August 16, 2018
This is unconstitutional.
— Honey West (@NotHoneyWest) August 16, 2018
After being stopped at the security checkpoint, the couple told Gothamist:
A second security person came over to tell us he couldn’t let us on the tour with our shirts. 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.
Is this still America? Have they abolished the first amendment and didn’t tell us?
— Edin (@EdinBrook16) August 16, 2018
Um I’m pretty sure that’s not legal.
— Chris (@ChrisRager3) August 16, 2018
Seems like a blatant violation of their 1st Amendment rights! @ACLU
— ʇɹǝqnɥS ɯo⊥ MAGA IMPEACHtRump (@TomShubert) August 16, 2018
The government can't suppress free speech. Sue them asap.
— SeanHammy (@SeanDaHam) August 16, 2018
Although the security guards defended their actions by referencing the July 4th incident when a protester scaled the Statue of Liberty, the National Park Service admits it was a “misstep,” and New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) has classified the act as illegal viewpoint discrimination.
The irony was not lost on commenters:
Irony is not dead.
— Leslie Bialler ♈ (@lesliebialler) August 16, 2018
They'd probably be triggered by the inscription:
“Give me your tired, your huddling masses yearning to be free, so I can put the kids in cages and send the adults back home.”
— ☭ (@dprssionxprt) August 17, 2018
The couple was invited back to visit the statue on Friday. And yes, they plan on wearing their “Abolish ICE” t-shirts.