“I was thinking of Lady Liberty above me, you are so huge, you have always been a symbol of welcome to people arriving in America and right now, for me under this sandal, she is a shelter.” ~ Therese Patricia Okoumou
Speaking to the Guardian at an undisclosed location in New York City, as she sought to avoid a media crush, she demonstrated in a doorway how she had tried to wedge her hands and feet against the folds of Liberty’s robes in the hope of climbing higher.
“I tried to go like Spiderman. But it didn’t work. My legs were shaking, I was dizzy, it was windy. I said ‘God, please help me up,’” Okoumou said.
Therese Patricia Okoumou, the woman that scaled Lady Liberty on the Fourth in protest of the separated families at the border was cheered by a crowd of supporters outside the Manhattan courthouse where she pled not guilty to federal misdemeanor charges of trespassing, interference with government functions, and disorderly conduct.
The prosecutor called Okoumou’s daring climb a “dangerous stunt” and alleged that she not only endangered her own life but the lives of the responding NYPD officers as well. However, Okoumou’s supporters disagree wholeheartedly with the prosecutor’s view of events, and they applauded the 44-year-old when she appeared outside the courthouse to address the crowd, “When they go low, we go high.' I went as high as I could."
A naturalized citizen, born in the Republic of Congo, Okoumou believes that her message, calling for an end to Trump’s zero-tolerance policy, was heard. Although, she admits that she would not repeat that particular form of protest again.
"I also want to thank the United States Park Police, more specifically officer Dallas Central. They've been very, very wonderful to me, talking about respect, courtesy, professionalism... I think the NYPD can learn something or two from them, from the United States Park Police" - video above 2:10
The park police called it a “disruption” and groused about the disappointment the evacuated tourists must have felt at not getting their chance to gaze up at the symbol of American freedom. Yet, shouldn’t Okoumou’s actions, “going to an island so named on the Fourth of July in hopes of drawing public attention to a claim about universal rights, and scaling the Statue of Liberty to protest a president’s antagonism and cruelty toward immigrants,” be seen as the embodiment of everything Liberty Island and our illustrious Lady represent?