Lady Liberty Goes Dark

Causing Theories to Explode


The Statue of Liberty, Photo Courtesy of ABC News

Janet Han, Photojournalist

The day before International Women’s Day on March 8th, Lady Liberty went dark for around two hours starting 10 PM EST. Instantly thousands of people speculated that the statute was out for one of two reasons- either in lieu of the new immigration ban imposed by the new president or in support of the events that were planned for the next day.

Washington Post suggests both, leaning towards the first as a result of the fact that the statute went dark just a day after President Trump signed the revised executive order limiting entry to the United States from six Muslim-majority countries. The news site also quoted a number of tweets, one saying that the symbol was to “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses… but later. We’re closed,” while another suggested that the lights were out because “Trump has plunged our country into darkness.”

In light of the second reason, International Women’s Day included a strike scheduled for the same day. According to the Women’s March website, the strike was meant to recognize “the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socioeconomic system.” Seeing that the Statue of Liberty is also representing a women, the supporters of the strike did not fail to stand their ground.

After some investigation, it was discovered that the lights actually went dark as a result of Hurricane Sandy. As CNN reported, the “temporary, unplanned outage” was actually because a lighting controller system was switched off in order to change lighting equipment that had suffered damage from the storm. After the repair, a failure to reset the system caused the short outage until they were able to locate the problem. Hearing the speculation surrounding the moment, the National Park Service assured everyone that the event was “not in any way related to Day Without a Woman” and that “we don’t use the lighting system to back any particular cause.”

However, supporters of Women’s Day continued to pursue their beliefs, claiming that it was not a coincidence that Hurricane Sandy was given a female name. Shortly after the lights went dark, the official Women’s March Twitter account wrote, “Thank you Lady Liberty for standing with the resistance and going dark for #DayWithoutAWoman.” Similarly, Aparna Nancherla found a link regardless of the true reason, saying, “apparently the Statue of Liberty lights went out due to a power failure. But I would argue women are also protesting due to a power failure.”

Meanwhile, in support of both theories, Raymond Braun posted, “CNN has just reported that the Statue of Liberty has gone dark tonight. Power failure or social commentary?” Eliana Shim (9) also supports the idea of both theories being correct, saying that

“the whole event sounds a lot like it was in favor of women against Trump’s many policies.”

Overall the effect of such a small technical detail represents just how much more different groups are using the Statue of Liberty as a symbol for their various causes. For example, USA Today reports that last month activists posted a banner with the words “Refugees Welcome” on the statue’s observation deck after immigration policies grew stricter. Not only this, but many other events are sprouting up as the statue is starting to represent a number of key qualities of many different groups of people.