She waved a shirt emblazoned with the words: ‘RISE AND RESIST’
From our extremely limited understanding, Americans usually celebrate Independence Day with fireworks or by watching Will Smith movies, not by climbing monuments to criticise the state. However, we’re really into this.
A woman has scaled the Statue of Liberty to protest the nation’s increasingly hostile politics. The US media has reported her name as Therese Okoumou, a 44-year-old Congolese immigrant. According to eyewitnesses, Okoumou waved a shirt emblazoned with the words: “RISE AND RESIST” and “TRUMPCARE MAKES US SICK”. Shortly after her ascent, tourists were told that the island was being evacuated.
The BBC has reported that it took three hours to get the protester down via a ladder. Detective Brian Glacken of the NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit said: “It was a really technical rescue just because of the slopes up there – I mean, it wasn't a flat surface. There was nothing for (my colleague) and I to grab on to.”
He continued: “At first she wasn't friendly with us but we took our time to basically get a dialogue with her... when we got her and she couldn't go any further I think she realised that her time was up up there.”
Other protesters from protest group Rise and Resist held a nearby demo with “Abolish ICE” banners. ICE, also known as the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has come under heavy criticism of late for their deplorable decision to start separating young children from their families at the South-West border.
“Patricia is our friend, our comrade, our sister,” a statement from Rise and Resist said. “From the moment that we realized that this amazing woman whom we have gotten to know, love, and respect was the person who had climbed to the foot of Lady Liberty, we had three concerns: one for her safety from falling, second, for her safety as a woman of colour who was about to be engaged by law enforcement, and third, to find her the best legal representation that we could.”
Last February, the Statue of Liberty was the subject of another migrant-related protest. Activists hung a “refugees welcome” banner at the base measuring 3ft by 20ft. Speaking to Fusion at the time, an activist going by the name of David said: “This was first conceived in response to what’s been called the ‘travel ban’ of the Trump administration, which I think flies in the face of the founding principles of the United States.”
It’s not surprising that protesters are drawn to “Lady Liberty”, given that she holds a tablet engraved with the July 4 date and was given as a gift to signify freedom in the United States. For many immigrants coming into the US, this statue was the first thing they saw, but with increasingly inhumane practices at the border, there are a lot of concerns about this current administration’s values and near-future actions.
Seven protesters from the Rise and Resist demo will be charged with unlawful protest, while Okoumou faces federal misdemeanour charges including trespassing, disorderly conduct, and interfering with government functions.