44-year-old Therese Patricia Okoumou, a resident of Staten Island, was the subject of a dramatic protest at the Statue of Liberty on the Fourth of July holiday.
Okoumou began climbing the base of the statue after participating in an “Abolish ICE” protest organized by the Rise and Resist NYC. The group scheduled the protest in front of Lady Liberty to bring awareness to the plight of the families being separated at the border, and to demand that Trump abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
The daring climb up the 305 foot statue was not a planned part of the protest, but Okoumou began her ascent after the group unfurled their “Abolish I.C.E.” banner.
The park was evacuated, and police spent a considerable amount of time trying to coax Okoumou down from the statue. NYPD officers eventually were able to bring her down without incident. One of the officers involved stated that she apologized to him for “having to go up there to get her.”
Okoumou will face federal misdemeanor charges for her part in the protest which include trespassing, disorderly conduct, and interfering with government functions. Many tourists in the area complained about the inconvenience the protest had on their sightseeing. One man from Miami described the situation, "It's not every day you get to go to the Statue of Liberty on the Fourth of July. At first we thought it was a terrorist attack, and then we found out it was a protester... I think there is a right way of protesting, a legal way of protesting, and she just ruined our trip."
However, to many, Okoumou’s climb was seen as a courageous act of patriotism with many on Twitter expressing their admiration for her bravery and dedication to her cause.
Patricia is our friend, our comrade, our sister. From the moment that we realized that this amazing woman whom we have gotten to know, love, and respect was the person who had climbed to the foot of Lady Liberty, we had three concerns: one for her safety from falling, second, for her safety as a woman of color who was about to be engaged by law enforcement, and third, to find her the best legal representation that we could.
The seven other protestors, the ones that remained on the ground, are being charged with unlawful protest.
Read more about the dramatic protest, “Woman Scales Lady Liberty After 'Abolish ICE' Banner Unfurled at Statue” written by Brian Thompson, Adam Kuperstein, Michelle J. Kim and Jessy Edwards and posted by NBC New York on July 4, 2018