Protester who climbed Statue of Liberty charged in federal court

Saul Bowman
July 6, 2018

About 30 metres above ground, the climber engaged in a roughly four-hour standoff with police before two New York Police Department officers climbed up to the base and went over to her.

The woman told the authorities that she wouldn't come down from the statue until "all the children are released", according to CNN.

The National Park Service evacuated more than 4,000 visitors off Liberty Island on Wednesday as a precaution.

A group that organized the immigration protest at the statue said she had taken part in unfurling a banner at the statue's pedestal.

Rise and Resist said it was working to get legal representation for Okoumou.

Once there, Det. Brian Glacken engaged Therese Okoumou who had climbed the exterior of the structure and then sat down by one of the statue's feet around 4 p.m.

Okoumou, 44, is a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo but now resides in Staten Island and has lived in New York for roughly a decade, according to New York Daily News.

She did not return a request for comment about the president's words Thursday night, but spoke with the media outside Manhattan federal court after pleading not guilty to charges of trespassing, interfering with agency functions and disorderly conduct.

But she showed no regret for stomping all over the Independence Day of hundreds of Liberty Island visitors, saying the only reason she would not do it again is because a federal magistrate judge ordered her not to.

"Trump has ripped this country apart", Okoumou said, referring to President Trump, at a press conference after the hearing.

The 44-year-old Congolese immigrant and Staten Island resident, climbed the tower on Tuesday to protest Trump's "zero tolerance" policy that caused thousands of immigrant children to be detained and separated from their parents.

"Let's gets some nets, and let's wait till she comes down", Trump said.

"Borrowing a famous quote from former first lady Michelle Obama, she said, "'When they go low, we go high.' I went as high as I could".

"We assume that she is protesting", Willis said, based on the woman's remarks to police. "In a democracy we don't put children in cages".

"That statue has been out in the middle of New York Harbor for 130 years - with hurricanes and lightning and everything that nature has thrown at her", he said.

If Okoumou is convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of six months in prison on each of the three counts. "She's survived quite well".

Outside court afterward, Okoumou thanked the U.S. Park Police for their courtesy and professionalism, but said the government's "draconian policy" on immigration had to end.

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