Therese Patricia Okoumou is a hero. The 44-year-old activist staged a powerful protest at the Statue of Liberty on the Fourth of July. After a group of protesters from Rise and Resist New York unfurled a banner reading “ABOLISH ICE,” she scaled the famous monument and remained at the base for about three hours. Okoumou, an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, refused to budge until “all the children are released.”
For months, the Trump Administration separated children from their parents at the border. After much outrage, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to end this policy (even though it’s his administration that enacted it in the first place), but this action hasn’t helped reunite all of the about 2,000 families torn apart. Okoumou’s protest was in direct response to the administration’s harmful behavior.
Okoumou could be seen sitting on Lady Liberty’s robes. At one point, she even laid down to rest. About 16 officers from the New York City Police Department’s Emergency Service Unit worked to get her down.
“At first, she wasn’t friendly with us, but we took the time to get a rapport with her so that took a while,” Officer Brian Glacken said in a news conference, according to CNN. “She just kind of mentioned the kids in Texas . I guess the whole debate that’s going on about that. 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.”
The officers put a harness on her to get her down. By Wednesday evening, she was in federal custody, where she’ll be transferred to a US Marshals office in Manhattan.
Rise and Resist is now working to secure her legal representation. In a statement (which some believed seemed like the org was distancing itself from Therese), it said, “In solidarity with Saturday’s nationwide End Family Separation protests, on July 4th, Rise and Resist planned and executed a non-violent banner drop and human banner action at the Statue of Liberty. 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.”
As people wait to hear what happens next in this case (and whether they need to chip in for her bail), many are using Twitter to talk about how deeply inspiring they find Patrice. Check out a few tweets below.