What is the most patriotic thing you can do in the age of Donald Trump? Fight for democracy and the integrity of the American constitution. Or at least, that’s the route a lot of Americans took this Fourth of July. One even went so far as to climb onto Lady Liberty herself in protest of the president’s border policy that is still keeping children in detention centers across the country. Now she’s pretty much an American hero.
Therese Patricia Okoumou is a 44-year-old personal trainer, activist and immigrant from The Democratic Republic of Congo. According to The New York Post, she is no stranger to public demonstrations and civil disobedience for a cause. She was arrested on another occasion in 2017 at a protest in front of the New York Department of Labour.
Okoumou was with the Rise and Resist activist group at the base of the Statue of Liberty in the morning on Wednesday where they had unfolded an “Abolish ICE” banner. It was later in the afternoon that police received a report that there was a woman attempting to climb higher onto the structure. Okoumou made it up to Lady Liberty’s skirt and perched there. She also displayed a shirt that read “Rise and Resist” on one side and “Trumpcare makes me sick” on the other.
— Miranda Nuñez Moreno (@miranda_mor1) July 4, 2018
Authorities arrived at the scene shortly after and shut down entrance to the statue while they climbed up to meet Okoumou and either talk her down or remove her. According to police, she told them she would not be moved until “all the children are released.” After three hours of discussion and coaxing, she came down and was taken into police custody for the night.
Her stunt might be over, but her impact isn’t. Okoumou is receiving huge support over Twitter with people calling her “a bad ass” and the official Black Lives Matter Twitter account encouraged others to call the police station and request she be released.
Her name is Therese Patricia Okoumou.
She is the Black woman who protested migrant family separations by sitting at the foot of the Statue of Liberty.
She said she would not come down until “all the children are released.”
Amazing. ✊🏾 pic.twitter.com/McmqDhCTQE
— Jermaine 🏳️🌈 (@jermainedesign) July 5, 2018
My girl is perched on the STATUE. OF. LIBERTY. Pink sneakers, legs crossed giving the side eye, protesting this country’s awfulness on July 4th. Black women are amazing. https://t.co/MZ1esoSvQg
— The NYC Film Chick (@TheNYCFilmChick) July 4, 2018
Say Her Name: Therese Patricia Okoumou, 45, of Staten Island. She was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and scaled the Statue of Liberty on #4thofJuly to protest ICE’s inhumane treatment of immigrants. #TheresePatriciaOkoumou pic.twitter.com/46ZkDE66zZ
— Denea Joseph (@DeneaRandeen) July 5, 2018
Therese Patricia Okoumou is America’s 4th of July hero. By climbing the Statue of Liberty, she stood for the children and showed us what freedom stands for. But now she lost her own. Let’s ensure she has funds for bail and gets the best lawyers to fight all her criminal charges.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) July 5, 2018
Somebody start a GoFundMe to cover the legal bills of the woman protesting at the Statue of Liberty. Black Twitter, get on this NOW and support our brave and ingenious sis! #statueofliberty
— Jessica (@cestlaguerre728) July 4, 2018
@Blklivesmatter global network stands in solidarity with Therese Patricia Okoumou, Black immigrant woman who courageously scaled the Statue of Liberty to protest this unjust government. Please call the metro correctional center in nyc – 646 836 6300 and ask for her release. pic.twitter.com/gp0mdzzmLd
— Black Lives Matter (@Blklivesmatter) July 5, 2018
Okoumou is due in court Thursday and could be facing charges for disorderly conduct, trespassing and violating national park regulations. Hefty charges, but she certainly got her message out.
Step aside, Captain America. The United States has a new hero and she wears bright pink sneakers.
Lady Liberty and a big green statue. pic.twitter.com/x3aBUw8bbu
— Tom Morello (@tmorello) July 5, 2018