Published: Fri, July 06, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Activist who climbed Statue of Liberty not sorry for forcing evacuation

Activist who climbed Statue of Liberty not sorry for forcing evacuation

A woman protesting United States immigration policy climbed the Statue of Liberty's base and forced the monument's evacuation on the Fourth of July.

Therese Okoumou said she climbed the landmark as a spur-of-the-moment demonstration against policies that resulted in the separation of immigrant children from parents accused of crossing the US-Mexico border illegally.

At one point, she told authorities that she would only come down when parents are reunited with all migrant children separated due to a Trump administration policy that was reversed last month in response to domestic and worldwide outrage.

Therese Okoumou, 44, of Staten Island, New York, was charged with trespassing, interference with agency functions and disorderly conduct, prosecutors said.

Emergency Service Unit Detective Brian Glacken said Okoumou initially threatened to push them off the 150-foot perch before allowing them to retrieve her.

"Rise and Resist planned a banner drop today at the Statue of Liberty". Okoumou kept her stance for the next three hours, sometimes walking on the pedestal, waving a T-shirt that said, "Trump Care Makes Us Sick" or lying on her stomach. In a democracy we do not rip children-we do not put children in cages, period. They detailed the complicated effort on Good Day New York.

The incident forced park officials to evacuate the island on July 4 - one of the most popular days of the year for visitors.

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President Donald Trump, during a campaign rally in Montana, called her a "clown".

Okoumou is an active member of New York-based activist group Rise and Resist, whose members had previously held an "Abolish I.C.E" banner at the statue.

She thanked a few people, including former first lady Michelle Obama. At first, she put up a struggle with police officers.

Okoumou, of Staten Island, was born and educated in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but she has lived in NY for at least 10 years now, records have indicated.

Seven protesters were arrested on the island earlier in the day, the National Park Service said.

Cruise operator Statue Cruises said it had to turn away more than 2,000 people waiting to take their tour to the famed statue.

Social justice activist/Journalist Shaun King wrote online that he was "deeply moved" by Okoumou's bravery to protest "the egregious human rights abuses of this nation". "As the court noted, Mr. Davidson's artistic creation of the Las Vegas Lady Liberty is highly unique and attractive, which is what prompted the US Postal Service to select a photo of his work for the second ever Forever Stamp, over hundreds of other images", he said.

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