Arrested Statue of Liberty Climber Identified as Congolese National

Jul 08, 2018, 05:16
Arrested Statue of Liberty Climber Identified as Congolese National

Okoumou, a US citizen who immigrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1994, pled not guilty to charges of misdemeanor trespassing, interference with government agency functions and disorderly conduct, according to CBS.

Therese Patricia Okoumou, the 45-year-old woman arrested for scaling the State of Liberty on Wednesday, likely sought to take a stand against the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy that's caused thousands of migrant children to be separated from their parents.

The protest group, Rise and Resist, earlier said the climb wasn't connected to the banner demonstration.

News helicopter video showed two New York Police Department officers, attached to tethers, climb up to the base around 6:15 p.m.

The news comes a week after a Wisconsin congressman introduced legislation to abolish the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in a demand for change that has become a campaign cry for some Democrats this primary season.

Okoumou is charged with trespassing, interference with national park regulations and disorderly conduct.

The National Park Service said on Thursday that more than 4,000 visitors were evacuated from Liberty Island as a precaution.

"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 added. "She could do some damage".

Despite pleas that she come down from the side of the statue, according to NBC News, Ms. Okoumou said she wouldn't until all the immigrant children detained by ICE have been released.

A group that organized the immigration protest at the statue said she had taken part in unfurling a banner at the statue's pedestal. "Trump has ripped this country apart".

She allegedly refused to leave the building and police claim she flailed her arms and legs around while lying on the ground, striking an officer in the process. "And when we got her she couldn't go any further and I think she realized that her time was up up there", Detective Glacken said. Her protest turned into a almost three-hour standoff with police.

Okoumou pleaded not guilty to all three charges in federal court on Thursday and was released on her own recognizance.

"Our message was that ICE must be abolished, families must be reunited now, deportations must be halted, and the policy of detention as deterrent must end", the group said in a statement. "Please get down, ma'am", a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio said about the issue.

If convicted, Okoumou could face up to six months in prison for each count.

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