But on Tuesday, Lady Liberty on Liberty Island displayed a very clear message at her pedestal, in the form of a hand-painted red and white sign. It read: “Refugees welcome.”
A group of anonymous activists placed the unauthorized sign over the base of the statue from the park’s public observation deck on Tuesday afternoon, according to a statement released by the National Park Service.
Park rangers removed the sign as soon as they were alerted of it. It was on display for less than an hour, NPS public affairs officer Jerry Willis told The Huffington Post.
Displaying unauthorized signs on a national monument is strictly prohibited, according to NPS.
U.S. Park Police is investigating the incident to identify the suspects, but a group behind a newly created Twitter account, known as the Alt Lady Liberty or @AltStatLiberty, has claimed responsibility for the sign.
An anonymous spokesperson for the group said in an email to HuffPost that “the action was taken by private citizens who are concerned about the un-American turn our immigration policy has taken and decided to speak up.”
The Alt Lady Liberty spokesperson emailed HuffPost a photo of the sign as it was being painted. They claimed they hung it up at the base of the statue at approximately 12:45 p.m.
The spokesperson said the group hung the sign up in protest of President Donald Trump’s federal travel ban on people from several Muslim-majority countries and his plans for a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.
“Immigrants and refugees make this country great. And turning away refugees, like we did to Anne Frank, does not make us great,” the Alt Lady Liberty spokesperson told HuffPost. “Refugees are welcome here, Muslims are welcome here and immigrants are welcome here.”
The sign was displayed on the same day that the Department of Homeland Security declared an open season on the deportation of undocumented immigrants.
The Statue of Liberty, a figure that once welcomed 14 million immigrants into the United States between 1886 and 1924, has come to symbolize different ideals and values over the course of American history.
Some people saw Tuesday’s “refugees welcome” sign as an act of vandalism.
Others celebrated it, claiming that the statue itself already represented the sign’s sentiments.
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story indicated that the Statue of Liberty was on Ellis Island. It is on Liberty Island.