NEW YORK - A woman who scaled the Statue of Liberty's stone pedestal was snatched by police officers and lowered to safety on Wednesday, ending a standoff that led to the evacuation of the New York Harbor landmark on Independence Day.
Authorities could not confirm whether the woman was part of a group of protesters who had earlier unfurled a banner that read "Abolish ICE" from the base of the statue in a protest against U.S. immigration policy.Television images showed two helmeted officers, outfitted in harnesses and ropes, slowly approaching the woman and grabbing her as she clung to the sloping side of the giant statue near its upturned right foot.
Minutes before, she had removed her pink athletic shoes and attempted unsuccessfully to scale Lady Liberty's green-tarnished robes as the dark waters of the Hudson River swirled below.
"She's been taken into custody amicably, peacefully without any injuries, or injuries to our officers, thank God. It's all over now." Sgt. David Somma, a spokesman for the National Park Service, told Reuters after the three-hour standoff ended. He said prosecutors would determine any charges filed against the woman.
The incident forced the park service to evacuate Liberty Island on a sweltering holiday afternoon when typically thousands of tourists visit the historic statue, a symbol of American freedom that has stood in the harbor since 1886.
Seven protesters were arrested on the island earlier Wednesday, Somma said, but he could not confirm whether the woman in the standoff was a protester.
A group called Rise and Resist said it had staged a "visual protest" at the statue, releasing photos of the "Abolish ICE" banner unfurled on its base.
ICE, or the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is at the center of the Trump administration's shelved policy of separating some immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border, leading to calls for its disbanding.
The copper statue, a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States, has become a worldwide symbol of the American values of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Standing 305 feet (93 meters) from the tip of its torch to the ground, the statue guards the mouth of New York Harbor between lower Manhattan and Jersey City, New Jersey.
The standoff ended before nightfall, when two spectacular July 4 fireworks displays were scheduled to begin over New York's East River and off Liberty State Park on the Hudson. The Statue of Liberty serves as a dramatic backdrop for both shows.