Statue of Liberty Protester Has Anti-US Message
The protester who ruined the Independence Day plans of thousands by climbing the Statue of Liberty dispensed a harsh anti-American diatribe outside of court on Friday, Aug. 3.
Therese “Patricia” Okoumou scaled the right foot of the Statue of Liberty on July 4, forcing Park Services to shut down the island and turn away thousands who had made holiday plans to see the statue.
After three hours a special rescue squad was able to get Okoumou down without damage to the statue, which is particularly fragile where the protester chose to sit.
Okoumou was arrested and charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct, and interfering with government functions. She appeared in court on Friday, Aug. 3, and shocked everyone with a slashing anti-American rant when she left the courthouse.
— Rise and Resist (@riseandresistny) August 3, 2018
Mocking the First Lady, Cursing the USA
In court Okoumou sported a green dress mocking a green jacket once worn by First Lady Melania Trump. Okoumou’s dress read, “I really care, why won’t u?”
Okoumou’s lawyer, Ron Kuby, asked the judge to pledge that his client would not get jail time if she took a plea deal.
“If I can receive an assurance from the court that my client would not go to jail,” Kuby said, his client would agree to a plea, the New York Post reported.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein told both sides to submit written briefs explaining their positions on jail time for Okoumou. If convicted on all three counts, Okoumou could be sentenced to up to a 18 months in prison.
Outside the courthouse, Kuby described Okoumou’s action as “nonviolent civil disobedience,” which, he claimed “should not be penalized with a jail sentence. That should be rewarded.”
After this public plea, Okoumou began shouting repeatedly, “America you [expletive]! You drug addicts! You KKK! You fascist USA!”
Okoumou is a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Immigrant Protesting Immigration Policy
Okoumou, 44, came to the United States as an immigrant from the Democratic Republica of Congo. She has been in the United States for about a decade, Vibe reported.
Okoumou works as a personal trainer and in her free time is involved in social justice campaigns. She is a member of a protest group called Rise and Resist, which also staged a protest at the Statue of Liberty earlier on the Fourth of July. However, Rise and Resist organizer Martin Joseph Quinn told CNN, “She climbed without our knowledge. It was not part of our action.”
Okoumou told officers of the NYPD Emergency Service Unit that she was protesting immigration policy.
She was obstreperous at first, one officer said, but she grew more cooperative as the police team worked to get her down safely.
NYPD spokesman Brian Glacken told a press conference, “She just kind of mentioned the kids in Texas. I guess the whole debate that’s going on about that,” CNN reported.
Glacken continued, “In the beginning, she threatened to push us off, push the ladder off, but we stayed with her.
“At first she was being a little combative, then she was willing to cooperate with us. She actually apologized to us for having to go up and get her.”
Ruined Holiday Plans
Jerry Willis, a spokesman for the National Park Service, said that about 4,500 people had to be evacuated from the island in the interest of safety. No one knew what Okoumou might do.
The Fourth of July is one of the biggest days for the Statue of Liberty, with some 20,000 visitors.
“It is their one and only chance to come here,” Willis told the New York Times. “Unfortunately, we had to clear the island.”