As a majority of the country celebrated America’s Independence Day on July 4 with food and family reunions, some used the holiday as a teaching example–to show that all is not well and fair in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.
One of those persons was Therese Patricia Okoumou, 44. The imagery of Okoumou scaling the statue will no doubt be engrained on the minds of everyone who couldn’t take their eyes off the screen. At one point Okoumou patiently sat with her legs crossed at the base of Lady Liberty while a police rescuer was just a few feet away from her.
She was apprehended around 6:30 p.m. after spending about 3 hours at the base of the statue in protest of immigrants and the deeply troubling separation policy which has kept thousands of children detained away from their parents.
Okoumou is currently being held on federal charges of trespassing, disorderly conduct and other charges, the New York Daily News reports.
1. She’s an immigrant activist from the Congo who resides in Staten Island. She’s been a resident of New York City for at least 10 years. When approached by authorities, Okoumou said she would not leave until all detained children were released back into the custody of their parents, according to the New York Post.
2. Okoumou is affiliated with Rise and Resist, a protest group which unfurled a giant “Abolish Ice,” banner on Ellis Island hours before Okoumou was arrested. The group originally tried to distance themselves from her, but later acquiesced that she helped plan the banner unveiling, but claimed the statue on her own accord.
3. During her protest she held up two shirts which said, “Trump Care Makes Us Sick” and “Rise and Resist.”
4. Okoumou is obviously not afraid of heights as the base where she stood is 89 feet tall. According to the New York Daily News, she works as a personal trainer which points to her physical skill and determination.
5. This isn’t Okoumou’s first time being apprehended in the name of a cause or demonstrating. In 2017, she was arrested for trespassing, obstruction of government administration and misdemeanor assault during a New York City demonstration against the state Department of Labor.She reportedly covered her mouth with tape and refused to leave the Varick Street protest location. In 2009, she won a $1,500 judgement in a racial discrimination lawsuit against County Recovery, a Staten Island towing company. She later filed and lost a human rights claim against a group home in 2007. Then In 2003, she filed a wrongful-termination lawsuit against a woman’s shelter called Safe Horizon. Okoumou alleged she was racially discriminated against and later lost the case as she acted as her legal representation in court.