On Monday, the woman who climbed the base of the Statue of Liberty to protest against U.S. immigration policy last July 4, forcing thousands of visitors who wanted to visit the iconic statue on Liberty Island to evacuate the island, was convicted on all counts by a judge in Manhattan.
Therese Okoumou, part of a group of roughly 40 protesters from the group Rise and Resist who were carrying a banner calling for the abolishment of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), ignored police requests to come down for four hours before two officers climbed up to the base and took her to a ladder where she climbed down 25 feet to the monument’s observation point, where she was taken into custody.
But on Monday, Judge Gabriel Gorenstein found Okoumou guilty of trespassing, disorderly conduct and interfering with government functions; those convictions could put her in jail for up to 18 months.
The New York Post reported, “Okoumou, 44, came to court in a blue outfit littered with statements protesting Trump’s immigration policies, including ‘No human is illegal on stolen land.’”
Gorenstein dismissed Okoumou’s claims that she should be set free because scaling the wall was a protest of President’s Trump’s immigration policies and was an act of conscience. Gorenstein quoted Sir Thomas More’s monologue from the play “A Man For All Seasons” about breaking laws in order to confront the devil, stating, “And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide?” The judge continued, “I think the defendant’s lawyers know that if I took them up on that invitation, none of us is protected by the law.”
The prosecutor pointed out that Okoumou endangered not only herself, but NYPD cops who rescued her and thousands of visitors to the island. One of her rescuers, Detective Brian Glacken of the NYPD’s elite emergency services unit, detailed for the judge what he and his team endured in order to rescue Okomou, saying it was “difficult due to the fact that there were not a lot of places to hold on to or hang on to.” A video showed Glacken leading other rescuers as they carefully made their way along a perilous ledge by the statue’s feet, tethered to ropes at the time. Glacken said of the ropes, “With my weight, it’d probably snap and slow me down for a second before hitting the ground.”
Glacken also informed the judge that the reason he wasn’t standing on the ladder near him was because Okoumou said she would push his ladder down. He said, “I talked to her about my life. I told her I have a wife and she probably wouldn’t be happy to know I was up here right now.”
Michael Avenatti, who served as an advisor to Okoumou, blustered, “The verdict today was not surprising in light of the letter of the law but sometimes you have to stand on principle. The Trump administration’s draconian polices of separating children from parents, stripping children from mothers, has no place in any civilized society on earth, never mind on any American soil.”
Video of the rescue below: