A woman climbed the Statue of Liberty for a powerful reason
On the 4th of July, a lot of Americans spent their day grilling, lounging, and watching the fireworks. Therese Patricia Okoumou decided to climb the Statue of Liberty. The activist, who is a member of the action group Rise and Resist, wanted to protest Trump’s immigration policy – and she did it all while scaling Lady Liberty herself.
Okoumou, a naturalized citizen who immigrated from the Republic of Congo, told reporters that she planned to stay on the base of the structure until ICE released the immigrant children who were separated from their families. She also had a pretty powerful reason for why she chose the Statue of Liberty as her climbing grounds.
“Michelle Obama — our beloved First Lady that I care so much about — said, ‘When they go low, we go high,’ and I went as high as I could.”
"Michelle Obama said when they go low, we go high. And I went as high as I could." The Statue of Liberty climber speaks out for the first time since her apparent protest: https://t.co/jwvTjjJt6S pic.twitter.com/6T1aGPFsst
— Eyewitness News (@ABC7NY) July 5, 2018
According to court papers, there was a three hour standoff between Okoumou and police officers. It took 16 officers, a harness, and a rope to get her down from the base where she was perched, holding a shirt that read: “Trumpcare Makes Me Sick.” Jamie Bauer, a fellow member, of Rise and Resist told The Daily News that Okoumou managed to scale the statue with just “sneakers and her hands.”
The activist was eventually arrested and pleaded not guilty to charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct. U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman called her show of activism a “dangerous stunt.”
“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.
Meanwhile, a big chunk of the internet celebrated her courage, strength, and conviction. They posted pictures of Okoumou sitting defiantly at the base of the statue — and it’s pretty incredible and moving sight to see.
Say Her Name: Therese Patricia Okoumou, 45, of Staten Island. She was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and scaled the Statue of Liberty on #4thofJuly to protest ICE’s inhumane treatment of immigrants. #TheresePatriciaOkoumou pic.twitter.com/46ZkDE66zZ
— Denea Joseph (@DeneaRandeen) July 5, 2018
Therese Patricia Okoumou…an immigrant, putting her body on the line for other immigrants, literally grasping the hem of Lady Liberty's garment on the 4th of July. This will be iconic. #TheresePatriciaOkoumou pic.twitter.com/40SmHRTYuy
— Tom Cox ✊🏾🌹 (@tomintheburgh) July 5, 2018
Her name is Therese Patricia Okoumou.
She is the Black woman who protested migrant family separations by sitting at the foot of the Statue of Liberty.
She said she would not come down until "all the children are released."
SHE IS A NATIONAL SHERO ✊🏾✊🏿✊🏿
KNOW HER NAME pic.twitter.com/2oryRh7eI7
— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) July 5, 2018
I think this is the most profound photo of the courageous Therese Patricia Okoumou sitting at the feet of Lady Liberty – protesting the egregious human rights abuses of this nation.
I am so deeply moved by her bravery… and her calmness throughout this action. pic.twitter.com/R64lyFcE2G
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) July 5, 2018
I guarantee those NYPD officers count the day they got paid holiday overtime to climb the Statue of Liberty for a peaceful protester as one of the best ones they’ve ever had on the job. I mean, A+ workday. Very courteous protester.
— sarah maclean (@sarahmaclean) July 5, 2018
Hopefully, we can all climb to Michelle Obama levels high when fighting against Trump’s cruel immigration policies.
“It is depressing, it is outrageous,” Okoumou told reporters. “I can say a lot of things about this monster, but I will stop at this: his draconian zero-tolerance policy on immigration has to go. In a democracy, we do not put children in cages. Period.”