NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The woman who climbed up the Statue of Liberty on the 4th of July for three hours, prompting an evacuation of the island and an emergency police response, is now facing charges of trespassing, interference with government agency functions, and disorderly conduct. Therese “Patricia” Okoumou , 44, of Staten Island, was first spotted by tourists at the monument around 3 p.m. on Wednesday. She allegedly “staged a dangerous stunt that alarmed the public and endangered her own life and the lives of the (New York Police Department) officers who responded to the scene,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement. Okoumou received a hero’s reception when she was released on her own recognizance Thursday, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported. “When they go low, we go high, and I went as high as I could,” she said. Exclusive: Who Is Therese ‘Patricia’ Okoumou & Where Did She Learn To Climb Like That? A National Park service spokesman said Okoumou used a ledge above a doorway on the public observation deck to hoist herself onto base of the monument, CBS2’s Reena Roy reported. She laid by Lady Liberty’s foot, roughly 100 feet off the ground, swinging her legs, waving below and even taking off her shoes to try to climb farther. All the while, NYPD officers surrounded her in helicopters and on the ground to get her down safely. Visitors were evacuated from Liberty Island via tour boats, as two Emergency Services Unit officers climbed a ladder to the statue’s base, hoping to reason with the woman. The officers said initially she was hostile, but they kept calmly talking to her. Around 6:30 p.m. they finally had her cornered and could secure a safety line on her to walk her down and put her in handcuffs. Police said Okoumou was protesting immigrant children being separated from parents at US Mexico border. The naturalized citizen from the Republic of the Congo pleaded not guilty to the three misdemeanor charges Thursday. Outside federal court, she said she did not regret the stunt or the standoff. “I would not do it again. The judge told me not to. Of course, I would not do it again,” she said. “But I think the message was sent: No child belongs in a cage.” Rise and Resist NYC, a group that organized a protest at the statue earlier Wednesday, said Okoumou also took part in unfurling a banner at the statue’s pedestal, but they did not know about her plans to make the climb after their demonstration was over. “That took a lot of courage and was a very daring action. I understand why she didn’t let us know that she was doing, because if this was an action brought forth to the group for the decision, we probably would have voted it down as being way too risky,” another member said. “She loves fighting for other people. All members of Rise and Resist do. And I think she took joy in protesting, in knowing that she had an effect in making other people’s lives better,” said fellow activist Martin Quinn. Okoumou has two prior arrests. Last August, she was taken into custody for allegedly not dispersing during a protest outside the New York Department of Labor. The Statue of Liberty opened for visitors again on Thursday , noting July 5 was traditionally the busiest day of the year to visit the monument. Tour tickets were reportedly sold out.
Statue Of Liberty Climber Stands By Stunt