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Prosecutors seek to revoke bail of Statue of Liberty climber

Patricia Okoumou scaled the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty on July 4, which led to an evacuation of Liberty Island.

Patricia Okoumou of Staten Island, who climbed to

Patricia Okoumou of Staten Island, who climbed to the base of the Statue of Liberty last summer to protest U.S. immigration policy, participates in the Families Belong Together Rally in Huntington Station on Feb. 10. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Prosecutors on Tuesday asked a Manhattan federal magistrate to revoke the bail of Statue of Liberty immigration protester Patricia Okoumou based on her trespass arrest in Texas last week during another protest of the Trump administration’s family separation policies.

Okoumou, 45, of Staten Island, was convicted in December of trespass and other crimes by U.S. Magistrate Gabriel Gorenstein for scaling the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty last July 4 and refusing to come down, leading to the evacuation of Liberty Island.

She remained free pending her March 19 sentencing, where she faces up to 18 months in prison. But she was rearrested last week in Texas after climbing the headquarters of Southwest Key, a nonprofit that houses detained immigrant children, unfurling a banner and refusing to leave.

“Because there is probable cause to believe that Okoumou committed a Federal, state, or local crime while on release, there is a presumption that no condition… will assure that Okoumou will not pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community,” prosecutors said in a letter to Gorenstein.

Okoumou’s defense lawyers said Okoumou hasn’t been convicted of anything in Texas, and questioned the need to jail her with sentencing on her Statue of Liberty protest just a few weeks away.

“This is the same government that refuses to reunite the illegally separated children with their parents that is now demanding that the most visible protester of that policy be jailed,” said lawyer Ron Kuby.

Gorenstein last week said he wanted to pay a visit to Liberty Island before sentencing, and asked prosecutors to determine if he could use a ladder to scale the pedestal as Okoumou did. The government has suggested dates for the visit, but said the ladder idea would create safety risks.

Kuby said his client’s arrest in Texas, and the government’s call for revocation of bail, highlighted the dilemma Gorenstein will face at sentencing – that Okoumou sees herself as acting out of principle, and has given no indication she’ll stop.

“It is clear from the outset that Patricia has expressed no remorse for her stunning act of protest, so she is already in a diff category from 99 percent of defendants at sentencing, who either deny [the offense] or say they are sorry,” Kuby said.


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