A NY woman who scaled the stone pedestal of the Statue of Liberty to protest USA immigration policy pleaded not guilty to trespassing, disorderly conduct and interfering with governmental administration in her first court appearance on Thursday. She told the authorities she would come down when the migrant families were reunited.
'We don't know whether she had this planned before she ever got to Liberty Island or whether it was a spur-of-the-moment decision, ' Walker said.
Okoumou is expected to appear in Manhattan Federal Court on Thursday afternoon, where she'll likely face misdemeanor charges including trespassing, disorderly conduct and violating national park regulations.
- Okoumou was seen at various points pacing back and forth on the base of the statue, lying down and then casually sitting down.
Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman accused Okoumou of staging "a unsafe stunt that alarmed the public and endangered her own life" and those of police.
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She was apprehended by New York Police Department officers after a almost four-hour standoff as she refused to descend from the national monument's base.
Okoumou was part of a group called "Rise and Resist" who were protesting the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's behaviour with "Abolish ICE" banners at the statue.
Following her federal court appearance on Thursday, she addressed the immigration organization, "Rise and Resist", and said, "no child belongs in a cage. especially on a holiday like this".
Therese Okoumou is surrounded by supporters as she leaves Federal court on July 5, 2018, in NY.
Under Trump's zero-tolerance policy, the government has begun requiring border agents to arrest and prosecute anyone caught entering the country illegally.
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Visitors were forced to leave Liberty Island hours before its normal 6.15pm closing time, he said.
"Borrowing a famous quote from former first lady Michelle Obama, she said, "'When they go low, we go high.' I went as high as I could".
All the while, NYPD officers surrounded her in helicopters and on the ground to get her down safely.
- Liberty Island, crowded with visitors on one of its busiest tourist days of the year, was evacuated. "And I went as high as I could", Okoumou said to applause and laughter. Now a federal court has ordered that the USPS must pay $3.5 million for its mistake.
Okoumou, 44, is a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo but now resides in Staten Island and has lived in NY for roughly a decade.
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Social justice activist/Journalist Shaun King wrote online that he was "deeply moved" by Okoumou's bravery to protest "the egregious human rights abuses of this nation".