In 2017, the Statue of Liberty went viral when a group of activists secretly hung a “Refugees Welcome Here” sign on the Statute of Liberty. One of those activists is interviewed for HBO’s Liberty: Mother of Exiles documentary. Here’s a look at when the banner was revealed and what happened.
The Banner Went Viral Even Though It Was Quickly Taken Down
The banner was unfurled in February 2017. It was simply a red banner with the world “Refugees Welcome” in white. The activists scaled the statue to hang the 3-foot-by-20-foot banner over the observation deck, USA Today reported. The sign was taken down a little over an hour later, but by then it had already gone viral.
Here are some photos of the banner:
An article by the Independent noted that National Park police were wanting to find the people who put up the banner because doing so was illegal. Parks spokesman Jerry Willis told the Seattle Times that regulations prohibit anything from being affixed to the statue, so the banner had to be taken down quickly.
The banner was hung to the observation deck with nylon rope, NBC New York shared.
The Activists Were Just a Group of Concerned People & Not Part of Any Organization
The banner was applauded by people around the country. It was the work of a group called @AltStatLiberty, a report on GreenPeace shared. One of the activists, named David, shared the story of the banner and how it came to be with GreenPeace.
David said that the banner wasn’t the work of any particular group or organization, just a few people who decided they wanted to make it happen. He told GreenPeace: “The Muslim ban had been announced, and that symbolism had been around in our politics throughout the election: freedom, what it is to be American, and how we interact with people who are different from us. After seeing the outpouring of people at the airport on Saturday morning, I started thinking about what one person can do that can be seen by a lot of people.”
He said it all went off easier than he expected, so at first they wondered if no one would care what they did. But when they saw how it was received, it was an amazing feeling.
“The exciting thing about our action was that it was something that a few random people could do, and I would like to see more of that,” David said.
He said part of the goal was to cut through partisan division with a simple message.
As for the Twitter account associated with the group, @AltLadyLiberty, they haven’t posted anything since a retweet in September 2018. It’s been more than a year since the Twitter account has been active.
One of the activists involved in hanging the banner is interviewed on HBO’s Statute of Liberty documentary.