5 years ago on July 4th, 2018
A woman climbs the Statue of Liberty pedestal, causing Liberty Island to be evacuated and canceling many midday Fourth of July tours
She had taken part in an earlier protest at the base of the statue that involved members of Rise and Resist NY unfurling an "Abolish ICE" banner and wearing "Abolish Ice" shirts while standing below the statue, but at 3:33pm, Therese Patricia Okoumou began to climb the base of the monument, eventually reaching the copper base of the statue under Lady Liberty's right foot. She remained there for three hours until NYPD Emergency Services Unit officers removed her safely.
Rise and Resist claimed they had no knowledge that Therese Okoumou planned to climb the statue, although she was one of 40 people who had come to the island for the protest.
She was found guilty of misdemeanor trespassing and disorderly conduct in December 2018 and sentenced to 200 hours of community service and five years probation in March 2019, each time appearing in court wearing clothing customized with phrases targeted at the Trump administration's treatment of asylum seekers and a headband with "I Care" written on it, referencing Melania Trump wearing a jacket with "I really don't care" written on the back while visiting children being detained at the southern border. Okoumou herself had immigrated to the United States from the Democratic Republic of Congo and became a U.S. citizen in 2016.
When asked why she made the climb, Okoumou responded with the clever quip that former first lady Michelle Obama had said "When they go low, we go high.", so Okoumou went as high as she could!
It wouldn't be her last stunt in protest of immigration policy: In February 2019, Okoumou scaled a building in Texas belonging to Southwest Key to draw attention to its involvement in housing children separated from their families at the border and spent eight hours atop the building before climbing down voluntarily.