LOWER MANHATTAN — A protestor who climbed the Statue of Liberty on Independence Day was found guilty on three federal charges during a one-day trial Monday.
Therese Okoumou, who goes by her middle name Patricia, was found guilty of three misdemeanor charges: trespassing, disorderly conduct and interfering with government functions.
Okoumou will be sentenced on March 5, 2019. She could be sent to prison for 1 1/2 years—up to six months for each misdemeanor charge.
“Therese Okoumou was convicted in federal court today for a dangerous stunt last July 4th that endangered herself and the NYPD and U.S. Park Police officers who rescued and apprehended her," U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said. "The act of climbing the base of the Statue of Liberty went well beyond peaceable protest, a right we certainly respect. It was a crime that put people at grave risk.”
She had been the focus of millions of viewers worldwide on July 4. That's when, following a planned protest to display a banner from the Statue of Liberty's base that read "Abolish ICE," Okoumou decided to take the protest higher, literally. She stood, sat and walked around the feet of Lady Liberty for more than two hours, she said, as a highly visible act of protest against President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" immigration policy.
Outside of the courtroom, before her appearance Monday, Okoumou remained unapologetic about her climb.
"It is not illegal to protest. Civil disobedience is a peaceful form of protest. And Martin Luther King Jr. would agree with me," Okoumou said. "There is nothing wrong with protesting."
Back in July, federal prosecutors and Okoumou's attorney agreed that she should be released on her own recognizance. No bail was requested by prosecutors for her three misdemeanor charges, which included trespassing and disorderly conduct.
"I'm hoping that this is an opportunity for me not only to talk to the judge but to the whole world as I did on the 4th of July to remind everyone that we have children in cages and there are still a lot of children in cages," Okoumou said to PIX11 News. "No child belongs in a cage. Period."