New York’s U.S. Attorney General just threw the book at Statue of Liberty climbing protester

- Juli 05, 2018

Yesterday, Therese Okoumou made headlines when she scaled the Statue of Liberty with a banner that read “ABOLISH ICE,” taking a brave stand against the federal government’s un-American and Gestapo-like deportation force.

A Congolese immigrant demonstrating against the cruel excesses of the Trump administration, she swore she would not move until all the children detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency were released to their families.

She was violently arrested by two police officers, who felt the need to put the peaceful protester in a chokehold for sitting peacefully atop the first level of the statue in a painfully appropriate symbol of what life in America is like for people brave enough to defy authority.

Now it’s becoming clear that the price for peaceful protest in the United States these days is growing higher by the day.

Manhattan’s U.S. Attorney General, Trump-appointed Geoffery Berman, released an unprecedented statement slamming Okoumou for her protest and charged her with three counts –  trespassing, interference with government agency functions, and disorderly conduct – that could throw her in jail for over a year.

The “Abolish ICE” campaign was created by activist Sean McElwee and has been gaining in rapid popularity since the cruelty of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, especially his orders to tear immigrant children away from their parents and scatter them in foster homes around the country, has provoked national outrage.

Major politicians, including likely 2020 presidential hopefuls Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MASS), and rising Democratic Party stars like soon-to-be Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) have all called for the abolishing of ICE, an agency that was founded in 2003 on a mandate of ethnic cleansing by the Bush administration. 

In response, the Trump administration has gone on the offensive, attempting to force the narrative that ICE is vital to law enforcement efforts to combat drug trafficking and gang violence (in fact, the opposite is true) and isn’t simply being used to funnel immigrants into our nation’s for-profit detention centers before being deported.

The criticism of ICE appears to have inspired the judge to come down hard on Oukoumo, or perhaps it was simply the sight of a woman of color daring to speak out, since the involvement of the Attorney General himself is very unusual, as explained by Courthouse News reporter Adam Klasfeld:

In a political atmosphere of increasing repression and animosity towards both the free press and to protesters in general, it’s no coincidence that the book is being thrown at Okoumou for her actions – and reminds us all of why her brave demonstration is more important than ever.

Follow Sean McElwee on Twitter to learn more about #AbolishICE. Call your Senators and demand they join the movement.


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