Statue of Liberty climber Therese Patricia Okoumou’s charges should be dropped, petition says

The woman who scaled the Statue of Liberty on the Fourth of July has launched an online petition calling on U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman to drop the federal charges leveled against her.

Therese Patricia Okoumou, 44, is due in court on Friday for a hearing related to her Independence Day protest, which resulted in a three-hour standoff with police and the evacuation of Liberty Island on one of the national park’s busiest tourism days of the year.

After taking part in an “Abolish ICE” banner unfurling at the Statue of Liberty with the activist group Rise and Resist, Okoumou said she climbed the base of the national monument to call attention to President Donald Trump’s immigrant family separation policy.

She pleaded not guilty to charges of trespassing, disorderly conduct and interference with government agency functions and was released on her own recognizance. Friday’s hearing, set for 10 a.m., will determine the penalty for her protest.

The petition, which had over 1,200 signatures on Tuesday, calls on Berman to drop the charges and urges the U.S. attorney’s office to instead focus its attention on President Donald Trump’s “anti-immigrant policies.”

“Our national government has ripped apart thousands of families and put young children in cages,” the petition says. “As part of our basic right to protest outlined in the constitution, Therese Patricia Okoumou climbed Lady Liberty to raise awareness of this injustice, a pattern wrought against thousands of families over the course of America’s history.”

Berman has previously called Okoumou’s protest a “dangerous stunt.”

On Tuesday, Okoumou attended two protests outside of the Alexander Hamilton Custom House in lower Manhattan, where Vice President Mike Pence and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen were expected to attend a DHS Cybersecurity Summit.

“I’m sick and tired of the callous way this administration is handling migrant children,” Okoumou said. “The imprisonment of children has to end and has to stop now.”