The woman who climbed up the Statue of Liberty on the 4th of July to protest immigrant family separation at the southern United States border has been charged with trespassing, interference with government agency functions and disorderly conduct, according to the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Therese Okoumou, 44, of Staten Island, could face up to 18 months in prison for the three federal charges.
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
Okoumou climbed up to the base of the Statue of Liberty on July 4 and stayed there for nearly three hours. She was part of a group of protesters on Liberty Island on Wednesday speaking out against the country’s immigration policies. She stated that she would not come down from the statue base until “all the children are released,” a source with the New York Police Department told CNN.
Earlier on Wednesday, the group of protesters unfurled a banner over a railing in front of the Statue of Liberty that read “Abolish ICE.” At least seven people were arrested on Liberty Island.
Members of Rise and Resist planned and executed a nonviolent banner drop and human banner action at the Statue of Liberty on Independence Day. An “Abolish ICE” banner was hung, and activists spelled out the same message on their shirts. Photo: Getty Images
Geoffrey S. Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, called Okoumou’s actions “a dangerous stunt that alarmed the public and endangered her own life and the lives of the NYPD officers who responded to the scene.”
“While we must and do respect the rights of the people to peaceable protest, that right does not extend to breaking the law in ways that put others at risk,” he said in a statement. “I commend the park police for the orderly evacuation of Liberty Island yesterday, and the NYPD for their bravery and effectiveness in bringing yesterday’s events to a safe conclusion.”
Okoumou was arraigned in Manhattan Federal Court on Thursday. She pleaded not guilty, the New York Times reports, and was granted release without bail.
Liberty Island was evacuated while police were on scene, which “caused disruption to thousands of visitors on one of the busiest days of the year at the Statue of Liberty,” said U.S. Park Police Major Pamela Smith in a statement. The Statue of Liberty opened on Thursday and resumed its normal schedule.