A woman who scaled the Statue of Liberty on the Fourth of July has been identified as a 44-year-old immigrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, New York Post reports.
Police say Therese Patricia Okoumou climbed up the famous Liberty Island, New York, statue in protest of President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy and families who’ve been separated as the result of the policy.
After climbing the landmark, a three-hour standoff ensued, according to Reuters. The woman resides in Staten Island and is being held in a federal detention center, New York Post reports, citing police sources.
According to court records obtained by the media outlet, Okoumou previously filed a complaint with the New York City Commission of Human Rights regarding abuse she allegedly suffered at her workplace, a Staten Island social services agency. The documents reportedly state that in 2005, the woman alleged that she was treated “in a demeaning manner” by her superiors at the agency. Though the complaint was thrown out, the reason why isn’t known.
This isn’t the first time Okomou has made headlines, according to the New York Post. In 2011, the media outlet reported that the alleged statue climber was fined $4,500 and handed down 60 violations for posting ads for her personal training business on utility poles in Manhattan. Okoumou told the New York Post in 2011, “This is ridiculous, how can I pay this?”
The Daily News reports that Okoumou was arrested in 2017 while reportedly protesting outside the Department of Labor in Manhattan. She was subsequently arrested on a charge of misdemeanor assault after she allegedly injured in officer while resisting arrest, according to Daily News. It is noted in the same report by the publication that the woman also filed a human rights complaint against a Staten Island group home in 2007, alleging racial discrimination.
Okoumou reportedly told authorities Wednesday that she was involved with a group, “Rise and Resist NYC,” who displayed an “ABOLISH ICE” banner near the Statue of Liberty less than an hour before she made the climb, New York Post reports.
NYPD told CNN that Okoumou refused to come down from the statue until “all the children are released.”
Approximately 16 officers with NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit collaborated to get the woman down, NYPD Officer Brian Glacken said at a news conference Wednesday.
“At first she wasn’t really friendly with us, but we took the time to get a rapport with her so that took a while,” Glacken told reporters. “She just kind of mentioned the kids in Texas. I guess the whole debate that’s going on about that. In the beginning, she threatened to push us off, push the ladder off, but we stayed with her.”
Eventually, authorities equipped with climbing gear and ropes were able to reach Okoumou, according to Glacken, who added that the woman was apologetic following the rescue.
“At first she was being a little combative, then she was willing to cooperate with us,” he said. “She actually apologized to us for having to go up and get her.”
[Feature Photo: Pixabay]