Statue of Liberty protester learns her fate after conviction for trespassing
Therese Okoumou had pleaded not guilty of during her trial for climbing the base of the statue on July 4, but was convicted. Now a judge has decided her punishment
The woman who climbed the Statue of Liberty last July 4 to protest the federal government’s treatment of immigrants received a sentence Tuesday of five years probation and 200 hours of community service.
Therese Patricia Okoumou had pleaded not guilty in the incident in which she climbed onto the statue’s right foot and refused to come down, forcing authorities to evacuate the tourist site.
In court in December, Okoumou testified on her own behalf, saying that images in the media of immigrant children being separated from their families at federal detention centers made her sad. Prosecutors had argued that Okoumou deserved prison time because she has staged three similar incidents since scaling the Statue of Liberty. In February, she was arrested for scaling a detention center in Texas.
In what might have been a reference to First Lady Melania Trump‘s decision to wear a jacket reading “I really don’t care, do u?” to a detention center visit, Okoumou wore a jacket on Tuesday that read “I really do care.” She also showed up to the courtroom wearing tape over her entire face, though she removed it once instructed to do so by the judge.
During the sentencing, Okoumou told the judge that she is not a criminal and therefore does not belong in prison, WNBC reported.
“I do not need probation and I do not belong in prison,” ABC reported Okoumou told U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein. “I am not a criminal,” she said.
On Feb. 20th, Okoumou was arrested in Travis County, Texas, for climbing a building and hanging a banner that read “Abolish ICE,” a reference to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.
In a statement issued in July, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said that Okoumou’s actions were a danger not only to her but to others.
“Okoumou “staged a dangerous stunt that alarmed the public and endangered her own life and the lives of NYPD officers who responded to the scene,” Berman wrote. “While we must and do respect the rights of people to peacable protest, that right does not extend to breaking the law in ways that put others at risk.”