Meet the Black immigrant woman who climbed the Statue of Liberty to protest I.C.E.
On the fourth of July, Therese Patricia Okoumou, a 44 yearold Black, Congolese immigrant woman who has been fighting for immigrant rights in New York for a decade, climbed the statue of Liberty to protest the abusive actions of Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) and the separation of migrant children at the border.
16 officers with the New York City Police Department’s Emergency Service Unit were deployed to apprehend a defiant Patricia Okoumou.
Officer Brian Glacken stated at Wednesday’s conference, “At first, she wasn’t friendly with us, but we took the time to get a rapport with her so that took a while.”
Glacken adds, “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.”
The entire ordeal took about three hours. Officials say they had approximately 3,000 people were evacuated away from the statue for safety measures.
Patricia Okoumou was protesting as part of Rise and Resist, a New York-based anti-Trump activist group that had planned a nearby action. However, an organizer with the group, Martin Joseph Quinn, tried to distance the group from Okoumou powerful actions, telling CNN Okoumou “climbed without our knowledge. It was not part of our action.”
However, the group later shared that they support Patricia Okoumou, and are “working to secure the best legal representation” for her.
A group of protestors also put up a giant “ABOLISH I.C.E” banner near the monument’s base. It is unclear if they were part of Rise and Resist as well. Some of the protestors assisted Patricia Okoumou in her climb, and seven were arrested.
Patricia Okoumou’s actions sparked a lot of online accolades for her activist work, particularly her decade-long fight for immigration rights. It also highlighted the struggles and activism of Black immigrants who are facing a plethora of xenophobic immigration policies. For example, Black Somali and Sudanese Muslim migrants are facing abuse and detainment due to President Trump’s “Muslim ban.” Black Haitian immigrants are on deportation orders due to TPS being halted by the government.
Patricia Okoumou has been charged with disorderly conduct and federal trespassing and is currently held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City. You can call +1 (646)-836-6300 to ask for her release.
She will appear in court on Thursday.