While many were out celebrating a day off, one woman was determined to make sure her voice was heard by scaling the symbol that America is supposed to stand for- Lady Liberty; and today that hero has been identified.
According to reports, the Democratic Republic of the Congo native, Therese Patricia Okoumou, was the woman responsible for the Fourth of July protest held to rally against the Trump Administrations “zero tolerance” policy and treatment of immigrants.
According to the NY Post, the Staten Island resident is currently in federal custody after officers from the NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit transported her to a federal detention center Wednesday night following her three-hour standoff with authorities.
Although this was the first time Okoumou has garnered attention for his work, this is far from the first time she’s stood up for inequality.
According to court records, In 2005 Okoumou once filed a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights, seeking a judicial review and reversal of a “determination” it made regarding alleged incidents of abuse that Okoumou suffered at the hands of a social services agency on Staten Island where she worked.
In 2017, she was arrested and charged with obstructing governmental administration, unlawful assembly and trespassing during a demonstration at the Department of Labor building on Varick Street. She had allegedly covered her mouth with tape and refused to respond to police demands.
On Wednesday, Okoumou told investigators she was part of a group protest organized by Rise and Resist NYC, despite the group’s initial attempt to distance themselves by saying she had “no connection” to their cause before admitting she was a part of their group. The activists unfurled a banner on Liberty Island less than an hour before her climb that read: “ABOLISH ICE.”
In an interview with the Post, Rise and Resist activist Jay Walker describes Okoumou as a “total badass” who’s primary activism is centered around immigration issues.
“She’s very dedicated to the resistance generally, but specifically to the issues surrounding immigration and the treatment immigrants have been receiving from ICE and Customs and Border Control. She’s been an active member for about four or five months. She didn’t tell any of us about this plan. We were all really shocked.”
Despite the initial distance, Walker did state that the group was working to make sure that Okoumou had the legal representation she needed to fight her case.
“We were all really taken back,” Walker said. “At first, we didn’t realize it was our fellow member. It wasn’t until we were able to see closeup photos of her that we realized it was her. We came through all the security protocols that we needed to when getting onto the Liberty Island ferry. I guess she just had some hidden climbing skills that none of us knew about.”