A Black woman who climbed up to the base of the Statue of Liberty to protest the family separation of migrants at the U.S. border on the Fourth of July was taken into police custody, CNN reports.
Therese Patricia Okoumou, 44, is part of Rise and Resist, an activist group that was at the Statue of Liberty to call for an end to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).
Okoumou, a Staten Island, New York resident, hails from the Democratic Republic of Congo and wanted to draw more attention to President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy, according to GQ.
Law enforcement attempted to talk Okoumou off Lady Liberty, but she refused and was seen crossing and sitting on the statue for almost three hours.
“At first, she wasn’t friendly with us, but we took the time to get a rapport with her so that took a while,” said New York Police Department Officer Brian Glacken, according to CNN. “She just kind of mentioned the kids in Texas. I guess the whole debate that’s going on about that. In the beginning, she threatened to push us off, push the ladder off, but we stayed with her.”
Therese Okoumou. A hero.
Wouldn’t come down from the Statue of Liberty until “all the children are released.” pic.twitter.com/RzxQIrnMvl
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) July 5, 2018
Officers eventually reached her with a rope and harness and brought her down to safety.
Martin Joseph Quinn, a Rise and Resist organizer, said that Okoumou’s actions were not part of the plan, telling CNN, “She climbed without our knowledge.”
The group is standing behind Okoumou, telling CNN that they’re, “working to secure the best legal representation.”
She was taken into federal custody on Wednesday and may be charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct and interfering with government functions, according to National Park Service spokesman Jerry Willis.
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.