Friday afternoon brought some troubling news out of New York City, at the site of one of America's foremost landmarks. Namely, according to reports, the Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island are being evacuated. According to Gothamist, the security incident may be due to the discovery of a "suspicious package," although they add that those reports are unconfirmed. It's concerning news, no doubt, though it'll crucial to see what authorities ultimately find, if anything. But at least this much is clear already – some unfortunate tourists just got their Liberty Island trip disrupted in one of the more fretful possible ways.
According to the New York Daily News, sources have told them that no one was hurt in the course of the evacuation, so that's positive news. But everyone who was on the island had to be shepherded back onto the ferry and returned to the shores of Battery Park, which sounds like a hectic scene to say the least. Assuming that the authorities eventually deem the situation safe, it may be some time before things get back to normal – according to ABC News, the ferry system is expected to be backed up throughout the afternoon, and there's been no word yet whether the people affected will receive refunds.
Security protocols for visiting the iconic statue have been a subject of some debate in recent years, as the National Park Service wanted to change up the screening procedures in 2013. The plan, to move the security checkpoint onto both Ellis and Liberty Islands rather than conduct it prior to boarding at Battery Park, drew a fair amount of criticism, in particular from Democratic New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who blasted it as a needless safety risk and a vulnerability for would-be terrorists. The plans were ultimately scrapped, which means that if the package in question was brought to the island via ferry, it should've already gone through a security checkpoint.
A spokesperson for the National Park Service confirmed to the BBC that "they are doing a security sweep," although they declined to state what they were searching for. Further, The Wall Street Journal reported that a bomb threat had been called in earlier in the day. Thankfully, however, the evacuation has since been lifted, after authorities (including an NYPD bomb squad) found no threat.