NEW YORK (Reuters) – A New York woman was due to be arraigned in federal court on Thursday, a day after she scaled the stone pedestal of the Statue of Liberty to protest U.S. immigration policy.
Therese Patricia Okoumou, 45, of Staten Island, was charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct and interference with governmental administration, and was being held by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Wall Street Journal reported late on Wednesday.
Okoumou was scheduled to be appear before a federal magistrate for an arraignment hearing, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan said.
On Wednesday, Okoumou climbed the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty and began a three-hour standoff that led to the evacuation of the landmark on America’s Independence Day.
An activist group called Rise and Resist said on Facebook that Okoumou was part of a Fourth of July protest at the base of the statue against immigration policy.
The protesters unfurled a banner that read “Abolish ICE,” the acronym for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which has become a focus of criticism over U.S. President Donald Trump’s policy of “zero tolerance” for illegal immigration.
Rise and Resist said it was working to get legal representation for Okoumou.
ICE, along with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Justice, has been involved in handling the Trump administration’s shelved policy of separating some children from their parents when they cross illegally into the United States from Mexico.
Television footage on Wednesday showed two officers, outfitted in harnesses and ropes, slowly approaching a woman and grabbing her as she clung to the sloping side of the more-than-300-foot-high (91 meters) statue, moments after she tried unsuccessfully to scale Lady Liberty’s robes.
The woman was taken into custody without incident, a National Park Service spokesman told Reuters. Seven protesters were arrested on the island earlier in the day, the National Park Service said.
The incident forced the park to evacuate Liberty Island on a sweltering holiday afternoon when thousands usually visit the statue, a symbol of American freedom that has stood in the New York Harbor since 1886.
The Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States, has become a worldwide symbol of American values. Inscribed on its base is a sonnet by Emma Lazarus, which includes the famous lines: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel and Jonathan Allen in New York and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Bernadette Baum