Nation & World

Woman climbs base of Statue of Liberty, forcing evacuation

Emergency responders are seen as a protester climbs on the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York, New York, U.S., July 4, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. Twitter/@sarah_eyebrows/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
Emergency responders are seen as a protester climbs on the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York, New York, U.S., July 4, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. Twitter/@sarah_eyebrows/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
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Frank McGurty, Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - 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 National Park Service was evacuating Liberty Island because of the standoff. The historic statue, a symbol of American freedom, is typically crowded with visitors on the July 4 holiday.

Television images showed a woman seated just above the stone pedestal on which the colossal, green-tarnished statue stands. Officers, using ladders, had climbed within a few feet of her and were negotiating with her.

“She is refusing to cooperate and our efforts to engage her are ongoing at this minute,” Sgt. David Somma, a spokesman for the National Park Service, told Reuters.

The parks service, which operates the Statue of Liberty National Park, could not confirm whether the woman was part of a protest, Somma said. Earlier, seven protesters were arrested on the island, he said without providing further details.

Those who were arrested had dropped a banner that read “Abolish ICE” from the statue’s base, a reference to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to media reports.

The agency 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.

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The New York Police Department said NYPD hostage negotiators were assisting the park service in attempting to persuade the woman to surrender.

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.”

It stands at the mouth of New York Harbor off lower Manhattan, in view of a spectacular fireworks show over the East River, presented every July 4 after nightfall.

At the same time, Jersey City will present a fireworks display at Liberty State Park along the Hudson River near the statue.

(Additional reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Chris Reese)

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