FOLLOWUP: Orlando sympathy banner back on Alki Statue of Liberty, and Parks says sash will follow

(WSB photo, this morning)

1:08 PM: Following up on the discovery yesterday afternoon that a Seattle Parks crew had removed the Orlando-sympathy sash and banner from the Alki Statue of Liberty because of “complaints,” less than a day after West Seattleite Sam Samaniego had placed it there:

Yesterday evening, two hours after we first reported on the removal, Parks said it was a mistake and would return it today. However, as noted this morning thanks to a photo tweeted by Heather, only the banner – covered with signatures – was returned. We’ve been waiting to hear back from Parks spokesperson Dewey Potter before publishing a separate followup. Now we have. Her reply starts with something else we had requested, details on the “complaints” cited yesterday as a reason for the removal:

A member of the grounds crew was at the statue yesterday afternoon. A man approached her and identified himself as a veteran. He said he was offended by the way the banner was attached to the statue and asked her to take it down. She tried to reach her crew lead by phone and could not reach him. It was late in (her workday) and she took it down. It is now back up on the statue. The crew chief reports that the sash was not in the truck with the banner.

Good news, though – while we were writing this, Potter e-mailed again to say the sash has been found and that Parks “will have it back up late today or tomorrow.”

In her first e-mail this afternoon, she also included this:

Seattle Parks and Recreation welcomes and supports spontaneous community events whether they are to celebrate a happy event or to mourn and grieve a horrendous one. Parks are gathering places where people come to be with their neighbors, and we welcome the expressions of happiness or grief that come along with those events. We regret that the banner was removed, and hope to identify local groups who may want to make a permanent home for it, as we did after 9/11 when the Southwest Historical Society Log House Museum made a home for the artifacts left at the statue then.

At Cal Anderson Park, we are waiting 30 days before we remove any remembrances, and are trying to identify groups who might have left items they would like to claim. It is our practice to post a sign at a site with items left behind giving a date when items will be removed, to give people an opportunity to collect them.

That was noted in our original report, looking back at several instances of guerrilla art at the plaza a few years ago that had warnings posted before removal – something that did not happen in this case. We will of course be checking back to see when the sash returns (let us know if you see it first!).

5:11 PM: As noted in comments, the sash is back (albeit windblown) – we drove by about 45 minutes ago; Parks says it was put back in place at 3:20 pm.

21 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Orlando sympathy banner back on Alki Statue of Liberty, and Parks says sash will follow"

  • AJP June 14, 2016 (1:42 pm)

    What a difficult position for the Parks employee to be in. The Statue of Liberty is just a statue. It’s not the flag, it’s not a flag pole, there are no proscribed procedures for the statue. Thanks for your service, veteran, but there isn’t offensive about a banner or sash. 

  • Brendan J. June 14, 2016 (2:31 pm)

    Agreed, AJP.

  • Nate June 14, 2016 (2:34 pm)

    There were literally hundreds of names on that banner. Each name represents a member of our community who thinks that a banner on a statue is an appropriate way for our city to show support, grieve, come together…  Dare I say that with that number of names, there was bound to be at least a handful of veterans who placed their names on that banner?

    I find it offensive that some curmudgeon would insinuate that their military service somehow qualifies them to determine what constitutes a proper way for a community connect.

  • Heather June 14, 2016 (3:27 pm)

    Thank you so much for checking in at the beach and staying connected with your Parks contacts, WSB. I truly appreciate it!

  • Jay Koster June 14, 2016 (3:33 pm)

    A veteran complained?

    As a veteran, I find that more offensive than anything else about this situations could have possibly been. When we take our oath of service, we swear to uphold the values of the Constitution, which includes the First Amendment’s freedom of speech and assembly.

    I may not care for some messages (not this one; I love the outpouring of compassion and support from our community!)

    • Jort Sandwich June 14, 2016 (3:45 pm)

      A careful reading shows that the man “identified himself as a veteran.” Take that for what it’s worth.

      Too bad his attempts to be the Grief Police didn’t work out. My family plans to visit the memorial today and to add our names, in solidarity with the memorial to the victims of violence in Orlando, and to show that I welcome and support these public memorials in Seattle.

  • Samuella Samaniego June 14, 2016 (4:06 pm)

    Just a quick note to say I will heading down in an hour or two to check the banner and possibly add another blank one, attaching it to and below the existing banner of notes and condolences. I considered removing the present one and placing one in its space,  but the reading of notes, wishes, hopes and prayers is as important as everything else. Again, thank you for your support and patience on this effort. You all have such a wealth of love to extend to even the most distant of peoples so very far from here.  


    • WSB June 14, 2016 (4:29 pm)

      The sash is back. Parks says it went back up at 3:20. We drove by and confirmed but it’s blowing in the wind…

  • Heather June 14, 2016 (4:34 pm)

    YES!!!!! I’m thrilled to hear the sash is back!  Sam, thank you again for making this remembrance, and I’m glad it is back where it belongs – at Miss Liberty, comforting and uniting West Seattle. 

  • kate June 14, 2016 (5:30 pm)

    I love the name Dewey!

  • Gene June 14, 2016 (5:52 pm)

    Ok – to be fair- until we know more- to the person that complained- Parks statement said the person was offended by how the banner was attached to the statue. Doesn’t say he was offended by what it stood for. 

    Maybe he felt it was disrespectful in some way to have anything attached to Lady Liberty.  So please- let’s wait for facts before skewering this person.

    If he- or she really is a veteran- thank you for your service.

  • June June 14, 2016 (6:59 pm)

    Well said Gene- 

  • kumalavula June 14, 2016 (7:04 pm)

    thanks for adding more space for people to express their condolences and send supportive messages. i was down there around 4:45 and added a short line at the very bottom of the first banner because it was entirely full! i’m not complaining; if anything, i am grateful and humbled that i live in a community that is so responsive and empathetic to people on the other side of the country. if only more people in this day and age could see our similarities and not dwell in differences.

    thanks to sam for initiating this. so sorry we’ve had to experience the frustration that occurred yesterday but so happy to see that we have this avenue to express what’s weighing heavy on our hearts.

  • JanS June 14, 2016 (7:16 pm)

    as a veteran (WAC, and Reg. Army ’72-’75), I see the Alki Statue of Liberty as us representing the original for what it stands for…inclusivity in these United Stated. If there was ever a time for inclusivity, that time is now. She welcomes all, as we also should. Our LGBTQ community, I would venture, doesn’t feel that this country  and many of it’s people feel that way towards them. My friends (some close) in that community tell me they have fear every time they walk out their door. No one should have to feel that way, ever, in this country. What Sam did was to let  the community here, tell Orlando, it’s people, the victim’s families that we do stand for them, that we do include them in our lives, that they are welcome. We have work to do as a country, but it’s small ventures and steps like that that move us forward.  I hope the person who complained starts to feel that way, too. We , as a whole, have also turned our backs on those who in the last 20 years have fought for us in the middle east, after they came home.  We are all as one. No one should feel  less  than…

  • enviromaven June 14, 2016 (8:44 pm)

    Thank you Jans (Jan S?)  That is exactly what this country stands for, and what you and all who serve (including members of my family,) fight for.  

  • cr June 14, 2016 (9:59 pm)

    I’d love it if we could somehow remember that this country also stands for the right to have differing opinions. If some people don’t like the banner that is their right.  Why are we making them wrong or implying that they are  lying about being a veteran? That sounds like an accusation Trump would make!   Politically I am a liberal democrat and at times I tire of those on my side of the fence  who subscribe to the idea that free thinking is good as long as you think like me. 

    • Dan June 15, 2016 (1:40 pm)


      I agree.  Frequently those who scream the loudest about tolerance seem to have a lack of it.

  • Samuella Samaniego June 15, 2016 (7:40 am)

    There were several people in the early evening yesterday and I did not get the blank sheet up. My apologies to people who would have possibly desired more space last nite. A small bus full of people also came to see the Statue. I believe it is part of a tour for a company I’m. Several people were deeply engaged with the banner and others wept as I did too simply seeing them. It was difficult to communicate anything as I am only english speaking and they were speaking a few different languages amongst themselves.

    Will return today and see if the banner can be secured more throughly. I’m sure the Parks worker gave it their best shot but it needs some attention which I’ll do today.



  • Samuella Samaniego June 15, 2016 (2:02 pm)

    Theres another panel up for people to sign. It is directly under the original panel. I would have loved to have the sash back the way it was when it first went up but it has been through a lot of handling and blowing around. The sash is however, thanks to Mike lending a hand, much tidier than it was last nite and this morning. Thanks again Mike!

    If weather permits and the parks staff is good with it until Friday, I will bring it down at 8:00 p.m. on Friday.

    Really amazing experience today at the Statue. So many people, big and small. Heard a little boy (maybe 7 yrs. old? ) explaining to his younger sister what the sash and banners were for. They both signed it.

  • Samuella Samaniego June 15, 2016 (2:21 pm)

    whoops…the banner/panels and sash will come down this Friday June 17th at 8:00 p.m.


  • Joe Szilagyi June 15, 2016 (6:41 pm)

    The memorial was actually back around or by 1100am this morning — we were walking past just then and chatted with the lady who put it up. She was just expanding to the second banner underneath at the time.

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