Protester climbs base of Statue of Liberty, forcing shutdown of landmark

A woman climbed the base of the Statue of Liberty on Wednesday afternoon, forcing an evacuation of the New York Harbor island where the monument stands hours before Independence Day fireworks displays were scheduled to begin nearby.
The protester started climbing the Statue of Liberty shortly after 3pm Eastern time on what was described as one of the busiest days of the year for the national monument in New York Harbor.
The protester started climbing the Statue of Liberty shortly after 3pm Eastern time on what was described as one of the busiest days of the year for the national monument in New York Harbor. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - Authorities cleared visitors from the Statue of Liberty on the Fourth of July after a protester climbed onto its base and refused to come down.

About three hours later, police officers followed the woman onto the statue and took her into custody.

The protester started climbing shortly after 3pm Eastern time on what officials described as one of the busiest days of the year for the national monument in New York Harbor. National Park Service officials said that more than 20,000 tourists typically visit the monument each July 4.

Throughout the afternoon, the woman moved around at the base of the statue, at one point waving a T-shirt and at another, lying down in a crease of the statue's copper robe.

Before long, police officers and park rangers gathered beneath her after she refused their orders to come down. Rescuers attached to ropes harnessed to the statue climbed up and cornered her at about 6:30pm.

Jerry Willis, a spokesman for the National Park Service, said that park officials started evacuating visitors from the island about 3:30pm. About 4,500 people were on the island at the time, and they had all left within about an hour, Willis said.

The episode came after the arrest of seven people in a separate demonstration at the statue on Wednesday. The earlier protest involved members of Rise and Resist, a group formed after the 2016 presidential election, who hung a banner calling for the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be abolished.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Rise and Resist said the woman was not part of its demonstration.

"Our action was completed earlier," the group said. "While it was not part of our action, our first priority and concern is for the safety of the climber."