US National Archives forced to apologise for blurring anti-Trump rally signs

The US National Archives has apologised and announced it will remove its display featuring a photo from the 2017 Women’s March that blurred out multiple signs critical of Donald Trump and replace it with the unaltered image.

The independent US agency tasked with preserving historical and political records acknowledged it made a “mistake” in a statement announcing the switch after reports of the edited display were met with swift backlash. 

“As the National Archives of the United States, we are and have always been completely committed to preserving our archival holdings, without alteration,” the National Archives wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “We have removed the current display and will replace it as soon as possible with one that uses the unaltered image.”

The statement continued: “We apologise, and will immediately start a thorough review of our exhibit policies and procedures so that this does not happen again.”

The photo initially blotted out the president’s name in one sign that read “God Hates Trump” and another that said “Trump & GOP – Hands Off Women”. 

It also blurred words on signs referencing women’s anatomy, including one that read “If my vagina could shoot bullets, it’d be less REGULATED”.

In its statement apologizing for the digital alterations, the National Archives noted that it was “not an archival record” but instead a photograph the agency had “licensed to use as a promotional graphic”, adding: “Nonetheless, we were wrong to alter the image.”

 

Miriam Kleiman, a spokesperson for the National Archives, acknowledged in a statement earlier this week that the agency altered the image “so as not to engage in current political controversy”.

“Our mission is to safeguard and provide access to the nation’s most important federal records, and our exhibits are one way in which we connect the American people to those records,” she added. “Modifying the image was an attempt on our part to keep the focus on the records.”

The decision to replace the display with an unedited version of the photograph from the 2017 march came as thousands of demonstrators participated in the 2020 Women’s March on Saturday, with more than 250 marches happening throughout the US. 

The Women’s March official Twitter handle wrote in a post how the signs are an “inspiring” part of the demonstrations held each year. 

The 2017 Women’s March was the largest day of protests in modern American history and saw crowds that greatly outmatched Mr Trump’s inauguration the prior day.

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