Tourists and visitors to one of New York City's most famous landmarks received a bit of a TL;DR reading of the classic Emma Lazarus poem Tuesday afternoon, when activists unfurled a banner reading "Refugees Welcome" at the Statue of Liberty, ABC News reported. While it's essentially a louder and prouder version of the Statue's original mission statement, featured in excerpts from Lazarus' poem "The New Colossus" that have been engraved on the base of the statue since 1903, the banner was removed by park rangers shortly after they got wind of its presence, the National Parks Service told NBC 4, because it's illegal to attach banners to national monuments. Darn.
The Twitter account "Alt Statue of Liberty" took credit for the demonstration as it started to gain momentum, with one user behind the account telling NBC 4 via email that "[they] have no formal group — just private citizens who felt like [they] needed to say something about the America [they] believe in. Additionally, the individual behind the account cited their own family's experiences immigrating to the United States as an inspiration: "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."
Coming a few hours after new rules on immigration were outlined by homeland security and weeks after President Donald Trump first ordered his temporary ban on refugees from seven countries, the Alt Statue of Liberty user also said that the demonstration was meant to be a reminder of what they believe to be true "American values."
"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."
Measured at 3 feet by 20 feet, the banner was hung over the observation deck just a little before 1 p.m. — long enough for it to grace countless Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts — and taken down by park rangers within a few hours, NBC 4 reported.
No matter how brief the banner's time at Lady Liberty's feet was, it still managed to give a "Once more, for the people in the back" clap-back to pervasive anti-immigrant and anti-refugee ideologies and remind us all that the Green Lady has always been there to welcome "[Our] tired, [our] poor; [our] huddled masses yearning to breathe free."