Woman Climbs Statue of Liberty to Protest Family Separations, Island Shut Down

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Therese Patricia Okoumou, 44, was arrested on Wednesday after she climbed the statue's pedestal and began a three-hour standoff with police that led to the evacuation of the landmark on the Fourth of July holiday, celebrating USA independence.

Therese Okoumou said she climbed the landmark as a spur-of-the-moment demonstration against policies that resulted in the separation of immigrant children from parents accused of crossing the US-Mexico border illegally. An NYPD source said she declared she wouldn't come down until "all the children are released", meaning the migrant children separated from their parents at the border.

'Michelle Obama says when they go low, we go high, and I went as high as I could'. She was taken into custody peacefully, the police said.

Earlier, several people on the statue's pedestal hung a banner emblazoned with a message about abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement and were arrested.

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Court papers also charged Okoumou with resisting arrest by refusing to leave her perch by the bottom of the statue's robes, about 100 feet (30 meters) aboveground.

Okoumou, who was wearing a shirt that read "Trump Care Makes Us Sick" on one side at the time of arrest, is now facing federal misdemeanor charges including trespassing, disorderly conduct and interfering with government functions. "She would not come down by voice command", National Park Service spokesman Jerry Willis said.

Created in 2003, the agency has become a focus of criticism over US President Donald Trump's policy of "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration. "At first, she wasn't friendly with us, but we took the time to get a rapport with her so that took a while", he said.

"I expected when I first got up there, that first ledge we were standing on for I guess a good hour or so was nearly a 45-degree angle".

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The protester was charged with trespassing, interference with government agency functions for what the USA attorney called a "dangerous stunt".

Watch live video from multiple views on the island here: www.libertyellisfoundation.org/torchcam. Somma added that the woman was not cooperative in speaking with police, and has yet to identify the reason for her protest.

People on their way to Liberty Island were not being allowed to continue to the park and people already there were evacuated, according to tweets.

Okoumou was scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate for an arraignment hearing, a spokesman for the United States attorney's office in Manhattan said.

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