67° Good Evening
67° Good Evening

Therese Okoumou, charged with climbing the Statue of Liberty, wants a jury trial, her lawyer says

Activist Therese Okoumou shows off her outfit outside

Activist Therese Okoumou shows off her outfit outside court in Manhattan Tuesday. The headband says "shero" and her dress says "vote them out." Photo Credit: Newsday/John Riley

A lawyer for the woman charged with climbing the Statue of Liberty on July Fourth in an immigration protest told the federal magistrate handling her case Tuesday she wants a jury trial, even though she is only charged with three minor misdemeanors.

Although Therese Okoumou, 44, of Staten Island, is charged with petty offenses that do not give her a constitutional right to a jury, lawyer Ron Kuby asked U.S. Magistrate Gabriel Gorenstein to exercise his “discretion” and order a jury trial.

“It would be most appropriate because Ms. Okoumou’s actions were acts of conscience, and the jury system serves as the conscience of the community,” Kuby later told reporters.

Gorenstein asked for briefs on the request, which he said was unusual, and set a Nov. 5 trial date for Okoumou, whose Independence Day stunt prompted the evacuation of Liberty Island.

She faces up to 6 months of jail on each of three different charges — trespassing, disorderly conduct and interfering with government functions. In early August, Kuby said she might plead if she was assured of no jail time, but on Tuesday he said there had been no meaningful plea talks.

 At her last court appearance Okoumou wore a bright green dress with the slogan, “I really care, why won’t you?” in an apparent effort to troll Melania Trump, who wore a jacket saying “I really don’t care. Do U?” during a June visit to the Mexican border.

On Tuesday, the activist – who employs fashion and social media consultants in addition to lawyers – had on a headband that said “Shero,” a white dress that said “Vote Them Out” and a skinny red tie that snaked from her neck to the ground, which she called her “Trump tie.”

“He always wears it the wrong way,” she said. “He’s not into fashion.”


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

News photos & videos