While some people were busy grilling hot dogs to celebrate the Fourth of July, others had no reason to celebrate America’s independence. A group of protesters took their activism against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the separation of families at the border directly to the most iconic symbol of the United States of America: the Statue of Liberty.
Protesting at the Statue of Liberty demanding an end to state violence & the inhumane detention of children seems a fitting way to spend a holiday that's purportedly about celebrating the end of tyranny. Happy July 4th to #TheresePatriciaOkoumou
— Bree Newsome (@BreeNewsome) July 5, 2018
A group of people affiliated with Rise and Resist NYC put up a banner that said “ABOLISH ICE” while others wore t-shirts that spelled it out.
Liberty Island was evacuated today because of a protester climbing the Statue of Liberty's base shortly after seven RAR protesters who unfurled an "Abolish ICE" banner from the statue's pedestal calling for abolishing ICE were arrested. © Erik McGregor https://t.co/qhXoJKibMq pic.twitter.com/Vy1o0MWT4B
— Rise and Resist (@riseandresistny) July 5, 2018
One protester took activism a step further. Therese Patricia Okoumou, a 44-year-old woman climbed up the Statue of Liberty and allegedly told police that she would not come down until the children in Texas were freed. News outlets report that Okoumou is an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is a resident of Staten Island.
CNN reports that a group of 16 officers approached the woman and tried to get her to come down.
“At first, she wasn’t friendly with us, but we took the time to get a rapport with her so that took a while,” New York City Officer Brian Glacken said, according to CNN. “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.”
The officer also said that the woman apologized to them for having to go up there to get her.
People on social media have been applauding Okoumou for bringing awareness to the separation of families on the national holiday that is supposed to be about celebrating freedom.
This brave woman. From the literal foot of Liberty. Legs crossed. Speaking, calmly, for all of us. With a sense of morality & humanity. Release those children. Reunite the families. Stay awake America. Do not lose your outrage. Do not become numb to injustice. This is patriotism. pic.twitter.com/hKTM1PCTyv
— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) July 5, 2018
While Okoumou has been arrested, Rise and Resist NYC is working on securing her with a legal representative.
— Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) July 5, 2018
Jay W. Walker, a member of Rise and Resist NYC, said yesterday’s protest was not just about the country’s immigration problems but to also highlight what America stands for.
“We thought we wanted to do something on our Independence Day, a day that obviously is meant for reflection on the ideals on which this nation was founded. This country has posited itself as a beacon. Right now, we have a government that is actively turning its back on those ideals,” Walker said, according to CNN.