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Protester Scales Statue of Liberty, Forces Evacuation

She was protesting US immigration policy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 4, 2018 7:05 PM CDT
Updated Jul 5, 2018 1:03 AM CDT
In this image made from television news video by PIX11, a person, right, lies under the right foot of New York's Statue of Liberty as police officers, left, work to convince the climber to descend, Wednesday,...   (PIX11 via AP)
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(Newser) – A woman protesting US immigration policy climbed the Statue of Liberty's base and forced the monument's evacuation on the Fourth of July hours after several other demonstrators had hung a banner on the statue's pedestal and had been arrested, the AP reports. About 100 feet above ground, the climber engaged in a roughly four-hour standoff with police before two New York Police Department officers climbed up to the base and went over to her. With the dramatic scene unfolding on live television, she and the officers edged carefully around the rim of the statue's robes toward a ladder, and she climbed down about 25 feet to the monument's observation point and was taken into custody. The woman was later identified by police sources as 44-year-old Therese Patricia Okoumou, an immigrant from Congo who lives on Staten Island, per the New York Post.

Sources say Okoumou told first responders she was protesting the Trump administration's border separations and was doing it for "the children in Texas," per BuzzFeed. Okoumou had participated earlier in displaying a banner calling for abolishing the government's chief immigration enforcement agency, says Jay Walker, a member of Rise and Resist, which organized the demonstration; the group initially tweeted the climber had "no connection" to the demonstration. Walker later said she was involved but others had no idea she would make the climb, which wasn't part of the planned protest. The climber apparently ascended from the observation point and visitors were forced to leave Liberty Island hours before its normal 6:15pm closing time. Earlier and farther below, at least six people were taken into custody after unfurling a banner that read "Abolish ICE," an official says.

(Read more Statue of Liberty stories.)

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