A pair of New Yorkers wearing "Abolish ICE" shirts were turned away by federal guards at the Statue of Liberty who demanded they either change out of their shirts or leave.
Gothamist reported that last month, Tiffany Huang and her fiancée went to the monument wearing the homemade shirts to "acknowledge the symbolism of visiting the Statue of Liberty."
"We did not have any plans for any other sort of action," she said. "Just exercising our right to free speech."
When they arrived at the dock to take their tour ferry to the island housing the statue, however, they were first stopped by one guard and approached by another who told them they could either remove the shirts or leave.
"A second security person came over to tell us he couldn't let us on the tour with our shirts," Huang told Gothamist. "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."
The woman said that the guards cited "what happened on July 4" — when activist Therese Patricia Okoumou scaled the statue following an Abolish ICE protest — as the reason behind the decision.
Huang and her partner contacted the New York Civil Liberties Union after the incident, who then reached out to the National Park Service about what happened. Through the NYCLU, the agency said federal guards turning the pair away was a "misstep" and a form of viewpoint discrimination that "never should've happened," Gothamist reported.
"It's pretty clear from our standpoint that we don't restrict free speech," NPS spokesperson Jerry Willis said, adding that he was pleased the couple took the agency up on its invitation for them to come back. The spokesperson also said that the agency was unable to identify who turned the couple away, and has thus not fired or disciplined them.
Huang told Gothamist that she and her fiancée plan to return to the Statue of Liberty on Friday and will wear their "Abolish ICE" shirts during the visit.