Statue Of Liberty Climber Hailed As Hero For Protesting ICE Detention

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Theresa Patricia Okoumou climbed the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty and then refused to move “until all the children are released,” according to the NYPD.

 

A black woman is being hailed as a hero after she took her protests against ICE and family separations to new heights.

Theresa Patricia Okoumou is a Congolese immigrant and a member of civil rights group, Rise and Resist. On the Fourth of July, the 44-year-old woman arrived at the site of the Statue of Liberty along with several other activists from the group to protest the Trump administration policy of separating immigrant children from their parents and detaining them. The group unfurled a banner that said “Abolish ICE” near the base of the monument and raised it. After about seven demonstrators were arrested, Okoumou decided to take matters into her own hands. The fitness trainer scaled the pedestal of the statue and climbed 89 feet in just pink sneakers, with no climbing gear.

She then sat there and refused to move “until all the children are released,” according to the New York Police Department. 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.

About 16 officers from the police department’s Emergency Service Unit took part in the rescue and arrest effort, said Detective Brian Glacken. The officer said at first Okoumou was not amicable towards the police officers, but they kept trying to open a dialogue with her so she could trust them.

“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 Glacken. “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.”

Officers were finally able to reach her with rope and harness and she allowed them to bring her down. She even reportedly apologized to the police for giving them the trouble of having to go up after her.

Rise and Resist member Martin Joseph Quinn said climbing the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty was never part of their planned protest.

"She climbed without our knowledge. It was not part of our action," he said.

"None of us know how she got up there," said Jay W. Walker, an organizer and board member of Rise and Resist.

He also said the theme of the protest was that Lady Liberty is weeping over the unconstitutional and overreaching abuse of power by ICE under the Trump administration.

"We thought we wanted to do something on our Independence Day, a day that obviously is meant for reflection on the ideals on which this nation was founded. This country has posited itself as a beacon. Right now, we have a government that is actively turning its back on those ideals," Walker said.

Okoumou is in federal custody and may possibly be charged with disorderly conduct, trespassing and interfering with government functions.  Rise and Resist is working to secure her release and legal representation.

Americans are lauding Okoumou for her heroic stance against the anti-immigration administration.

 

 

 

 

 

Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters

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