Security Bars Couple From Statue of Liberty for Wearing 'Abolish ICE' Shirts

Tiffany Huang and her fiancé just wanted to exercise their "right to free speech." But security guards apparently had other ideas.


Abaca Press/Van Tine Dennis/Abaca/Sipa USA/Newscom

A New York couple planned to symbolically protest President Donald Trump's immigration policies last month by visiting the Statue of Liberty while wearing "Abolish ICE" T-shirts. But they say security guards told them they couldn't tour the monument unless they changed their shirts.

Tiffany Huang and her fiancé "felt we needed to acknowledge the symbolism of visiting the Statue of Liberty," Huang tells Gothamist. They planned their visit for July 14, less than two weeks after protester Therese Okoumou was arrested for scaling the monument. Prior to her arrest, Okoumou and other demonstrators unfurled a banner from the statue's pedestal calling for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be abolished.

But Huang and her fiancé didn't intend to take similar action. "We did not have any plans for any other sort of action—just exercising our right to free speech," she tells Gothamist.

Still, citing "what happened on July 4th," security guards gave them an ultimatum: Change their shirts, or leave. One guard told them "it was our 'choice' to either change or put on clothes over our T-shirts, or leave," Huang says. "So we said we would rather leave, and another security person walked us back out through security."

The couple contacted to the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), who says they were the victim of "viewpoint discrimination."

"Prohibiting would-be visitors to the Statue of Liberty from accessing the nation's most prominent public symbol of welcoming immigrants simply because of the message on their shirts violates our most sacred values," NYCLU staff attorney Jordan Wells tells INSIDER.

The NYCLU got in touch with the National Park Service (NPS), who admitted to the "misstep." NPS spokesperson Jerry Willis tells Gothamist "this never should've happened" and said "it's pretty clear from our standpoint that we don't restrict free speech."

Statue Cruises, the company that operates Statue of Liberty tours, refunded the couple for their unfinished tour, and the NPS invited them to return. Huang and her fiancé have taken the agency up on that invitation. They planned to come back today, again wearing their "Abolish ICE" shirts.

NEXT: Aretha Franklin in Muscle Shoals

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. If ice gets abolished, what am I going to cool my delicious cocktails with?

    1. who would water down a cocktail???

      Just get a bunch of stainless steel ball bearings and throw them into the freezer. When you mix your next cocktail, throw them in the shaker and voila, cold cocktail. Make sure the cocktail glass is cold too.

      1. Make sure the glass isn’t thin either…

  2. I wonder how many people they had to send there before they managed to attract attention.

      1. The Left

      2. I’m wondering about that, too.

        But astroturf is like porn – I know it when I see it.

  3. I’m outraged!

    If there’s anything to learn from this, it’s that government employees can be shitheads.

    Didn’t we already know that?

    I’m outraged anyway!


    1. Libertarian newsmagazines should definitely not report on state agents violating the civil rights of Americans, because that shit happens all the time.

    2. Imagine they were “abolish the EPA” t-shirts and Obama was president.

      1. “Imagine they were “abolish the EPA” t-shirts and Obama was president.”

        – Then I suspect Ken would treat us to a >6 paragraph diatribe on the subject.

        1. I suppose we might as well enjoy the laid-back non-outraged Ken while it lasts.

      2. Apparently not a new policy. I was told to cover up a “Taxation is Theft” t-shirt when I tried to go into the Liberty Bell pavilion in Phila. back when Carter was president. Though I’d bet that someone wearing a Che shirt could go almost anywhere.

      3. Imagine they were wearing Obama masks while doing so. Imagine the twitter mob rage. Imagine losing their employment.

    3. It’s going to be fun trolling Ken when he’s routinely outraged the next time a Democrat is in the White House.

  4. “”””””””Prohibiting would-be visitors to the Statue of Liberty from accessing the nation’s most prominent public symbol of welcoming immigrants “”””””

    The Statue of Liberty has nothing to do with welcoming immigrants, it was built to celebrate the 100th year of American independence( it was late due to funding issues) but the independence it was celebrating included for Americans the right to run the USA including its immigration policy.

    Ellis Island is another of those symbols that have been Falsely used as a some sort of open borders lies when in fact it was build to stop the open borders idea

    1. The Statue of Liberty has nothing to do with welcoming immigrants

      I bet a lot of people are going to be convinced by this.

      1. I doubt it, they have been subjected to government propaganda for decades in the Public Schools

        If they want a symbol of open borders they should go visit Plymouth Rock

        1. Do you honestly think anyone considers it a symbol of “open borders” when people typically talk about their family’s passage through Ellis Island as a tribulation, a place where they were grudgingly let in by officials who changed their names?

          1. It’s used as justification for continued immigration, so…

      2. Sure thing, lets go back to the non-existent welfare state and loose to non-existent labor force rules of the Ellis Island era and then we can go back to letting in tons of immigrants (while, by the way, still rejecting a whole lot of them.)

        But wait, let me guess. You’re only in favor of letting in all immigrants without deregulating labor or abolishing the welfare state?

        That’s definitely one way to transfer wealth from immigrants to old white people, for sure. This makes you ‘compassionate’ in your view, yes?

        1. You guessed wrong. I’m 100% against the welfare state. Including for Americans. And I consider government schools part of the welfare state.

          1. Fair enough then. You’re against expansive labor protections too, then, I’d hope since it’s another factor in why limiting immigration is actually a necessary component of American immigration policy.

            Getting rid of most of it is a necessary stepping stone to more open immigration in my view, and I have no issue with the underlying idea of having more immigrants. Merely that 100 years of progressive policy have made such a policy national suicide. In fact, it was the verbatim justification for those policies at the time in that they explicitly were designed to harm immigrant labor.

            1. And in my view, getting rid of government schools and the refundable child tax credit should be the necessary stepping stone to allowing any American woman to carry a pregnancy to term. And yet.

              1. I suspected you were into eugenics, thanks for making it explicit though. There are better arguments to make your case than ‘breeders are nasty’ and this isn’t the first time I’ve seen you take that stance.

    2. “Give me your tired, your poor,
      Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,
      The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
      Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
      I lift my lamp beside the golden door. “

      1. Yeah, who needs some piss-poor translation of some French poem by some cheese-eating surrender monkey? What’s that go to do with Ellis Island or the Statue of Liberty anyway?

        Get offa my cloud.

      2. Is that the eleventeenth amendment to the constitution or Emma Lazarus’s ad for a new housekeeper who works cheap?

  5. * burns ‘Strip Bitch’ T-shirt for trip to Statue of Liberty next month.

  6. >>just exercising our right to free speech

    forum fail.

  7. Another day, another Big Government fail.

  8. She would have gotten more publicity if she had just taken off the t-shirt and gone ahead with the tour.
    Carry the t-shirt over one arm in a manner that just happened to show the logo.

    1. While breastfeeding.

      Which begs the question, if her husband started a-suckin, would it be covered under current policy, or is that limited to infants (and who decides on the age limit).

  9. Note that the rentacops weren’t disciplined for their actions.

  10. Well, good on the National Parks Service for recognizing the violation and apologizing. Now if they could just train their officers a little better beforehand.

  11. When the Statue of Liberty opened after 9/11. It had beyond TSA style security. I think they may have scaled back a bit. Don’t know.

    I was shaking my head at the irony.

  12. The First Amendment doesn’t give you the right to wear a “FIRE!” t-shirt in a crowded theater.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.