National Archives Apologizes for Altered Photo of Signs Critical to Trump at Women’s March

Archives to replace edited photo with its original version, but ACLU says, “Apologizing is not enough”

Last Updated: January 18, 2020 @ 1:48 PM

The National Archives apologized on Saturday for “a mistake” it made earlier this week for altering some signs that were critical of President Trump in a large picture of the 2017 Women’s March that greets visitors at an exhibit celebrating 100 years of women’s suffrage.

One sign saying “Trump & GOP — Hands Off Women” had the word “Trump” removed, as well as another sign that said “God Hates Trump.” Other signs mentioning parts of the female anatomy were also changed.

The statement, printed on National Archives stationary and obtained by The New York Times, can be read in full below:

We made a mistake.

As the National Archives of the United States, we are and have always been completely committed to preserving our archival holdings, without altercation.

In a promotional display in this spot, we obscured some words on protest signs in a photo of the 2017 Women’s march. This photo is not an archival record held by the National Archives, but one we licensed to use as a promotional graphic.

Nonetheless, we were wrong to alter the image.

We have removed the display and will replace it as soon as possible with one that uses the unaltered image.

We apologize, and will immediately start a thorough review of our exhibit policies and procedures so that this does not happen again.

But ACLU Deputy Legal Director Louise Melling said in a statement that their apology is “not enough.”

“Apologizing is not enough,” the ACLU statement reads. “The National Archives must explain to the public why it even took the Orwellian step of trying to rewrite history and erasing women’s bodies from it, as well as who ordered it”

Melling added, “The government can’t airbrush history or erase women’s bodies from it. It is the job of the National Archives to document history, not alter it to serve the president’s ego.”

National Archives spokeswoman Miriam Kleiman told The Washington Post on Friday that the references to the President’s name on some posters was “so as not to engage in current political controversy.”

The altered photo showed a large crowd in Washington, D.C.,  on Jan. 21, 2017 — the day after President Trump was inaugurated. The photo is 49-by-69 inches and is juxtaposed against a picture from 1913 of a women’s suffrage mach on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The Archives told WaPo the decision to obscure the pictures was made by “agency managers” and museum staff members, and that archivist David S. Ferriero had been appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009.