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Statue of Liberty climber Therese Okoumou open to a plea without jail time

The Staten Island activist climbed the base of the statue to protest Trump administration immigration policies.

Activist Therese Okoumou talks to reporters outside a

Activist Therese Okoumou talks to reporters outside a federal court in Manhattan after her hearing Friday. Photo Credit: EPA-EFE / REX / Shutterstock / Justin Lane

A lawyer for Therese Okoumou, the immigration activist who climbed the Statue of Liberty on July 4, said at a Manhattan federal court hearing Friday that she would likely agree to a plea if she gets assurances she won’t go to jail.

Defense lawyer Ron Kuby said a trial could be averted after U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein agreed under a special rule for federal misdemeanor charges to hear arguments in advance about whether the charge merited imprisonment and a ruling by October.

“Our client acted in literally the highest traditions of nonviolent civil disobedience . . . to bring to the world’s attention the plight of immigrant children,” Kuby told reporters afterward. “That should not be penalized with a jail sentence. That should be rewarded.”

Okoumou, 44, of Staten Island, faces up to six months of jail on each of three different charges — trespassing, disorderly conduct and interfering with government functions — for climbing the base of the statue to protest Trump administration immigration policies and refusing to come down, prompting evacuation of Liberty Island.

She showed up 15 minutes late for her hearing, wearing a bright green headband and matching dress decorated front and back with the words “I really care. Why won’t you?” — an apparent effort to troll Melania Trump, who wore a  jacket saying, “I really don’t care, do u?” on a border visit  in June. 

Outside court, Okoumou posed for a small crowd of supporters with anti-Trump signs and slapped her rear-end to highlight another slogan on the dress — “Be Best,” the name of the first lady’s campaign to help children.

After thanking the “team of professionals” helping with her newfound progressive celebrity — including lawyers, advisers on public relations, fundraising and social media, a “personal advocate” and a fashion designer — she said she “placed myself at risk for the children.”

“I can say God Bless America without being ironic,” she said. “The 4th of July is a celebration of freedom, a symbol of hope and a beacon of democracy.”

She then screamed “America,” and sang a song with the lyrics, “America you [expletive], you drug addicts, you KKK, you fascist USA.”

Okoumou has said she is a naturalized citizen from the Congo. President Donald Trump has called her a “clown.” Gorenstein said he will likely announce his decision on whether she may face jail time at the next hearing on Oct. 1.


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