For America to be touted as a nation where freedom of speech is supposed to be valued and celebrated, folk sure don’t want people using that constitutional right.
In this country, Americans have the right to engage other citizens in acts of protest and peaceful assembly. This right is not only central to our First Amendment, but it is also crucial for a properly functioning democracy.
Our founding father’s fought for this. Many of them even sacrificed their lives for the freedom to say whatever the cluck you want to say as long as it does not infringe on the liberties of someone else. Unfortunately, law enforcement officials sometimes violate this right through means intended to thwart free public expression.
Enter in Patricia Okoumou. In 2018, in commemoration of our country’s Independence Day, she climbed the Statue of Liberty (a domestic symbol of freedom) to protest the separation of children from their families at the southern border.
This act was only the start of bringing awareness to this crisis. After climbing protest over in Texas, officials argued she needed to be locked up to stop other people from breaking the law. Okoumou was convicted in December of trespass for scaling the pedestal of Lady Liberty and refusing to come down.
According to ABCNews 7, the 45-year-old came to court to be sentenced by a judge about her actions. As she entered into the courthouse, she was undefeated in her position by maintaining her protest and advocacy. On her face, she put tape across her mouth.
The judge was not having it and asked her to remove it before the sentencing began.
Judge Gabriel Gorenstein passed his judgment: five years of probation and 200 hours of community service. This ruling went against what the federal prosecutors wanted her to serve. The wanted her to do 30 days in prison and three years probation.
An unbowed Okoumou told the judge, “I do not need probation, and I do not belong in prison, I am not a criminal.”