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Woman Who Protested Family Separation By Climbing Statue Of Liberty Found Guilty

Therese Patricia Okoumou.
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Therese Patricia Okoumou. Mary Altaffer/AP/Shutterstock

A federal magistrate judge ruled Monday that the activist who scaled the Statue of Liberty on July 4th is guilty of three misdemeanors: Trespassing, interference with agency functions, and disorderly conduct, according to the NY Daily News. All together, the charges could result in a maximum of 18 months in prison.

Therese Patricia Okoumou climbed the statue in protest of the Trump administration's family separation policy, and although she never made it past the hem of Liberty's robes, the stunt still required intervention from the NYPD's Emergency Service Unit. Detectives had to remove Okoumou from the monument, and thousands of visitors were evacuated from Liberty Island.

According to the Daily News, Okoumou—herself an immigrant from Congo, who secured citizenship in 2016—stated Monday that she "just couldn't live with" the idea of her government keeping children in kennel-like conditions. "I've had nightmares. Night sweats," she added. As the Guardian points out, the human rights abuses at the border are reportedly ongoing, even though family separation itself has ostensibly been revoked. "Unfortunately, as long as our children are being placed in cages my moral values call for me to do something about it," Okoumou—outfitted in a blue headband that read "I care," harkening back to Melania Trump's tone-deaf border visit outfit—tearfully said on the stand. Would she stage the same protest again, her lawyer asked? "Yes," she reportedly replied.

"Whether one sympathizes with the defendant's moral perspective is not at issue in this case," Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett Kalikow argued. "The defendant chose to protest in a manner that risked harm to herself and others." The "act of climbing the base of the Statue of Liberty went well beyond peaceable protest, a right we certainly respect," he told NBC 4 in a statement.

Acknowledging that he did "not doubt the sincerity of her beliefs," Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein seemed to agree, and delivered guilty verdicts on all three of the charges against Okoumou. She will be free without bail until her March 5th pre-sentencing hearing.

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