A protestor scaled the base of the Statue of Liberty on Wednesday, prompting the evacuation of Liberty Island. Therese Okoumou made it about 25 feet above the observation deck at the statue’s base, to the skirt of Lady Liberty, before being arrested after a three-hour rescue endeavor, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Her action prompted the evacuation of Liberty Island on one of its most trafficked days of the year. The New York Times says about 20,000 people visit the island on the Fourth of July. About 4,500 people were evacuated from the island within an hour yesterday, starting around 3:30 p.m.
Okoumou is affiliated with the Rise and Resist action group, who earlier in the afternoon unfurled a banner on Liberty Island calling for the abolishment of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
In a statement released yesterday, Rise and Release acknowledges Okoumou as a participant in the banner action but says “her decision to climb the statue was made independently of the group, without consulting any other member of the group.” (In a later statement, the group says it “unequivocally support[s]” Okoumou.)
The New York Post identifies Okoumou as a 44-year-old immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo—the Wall Street Journal reports Okoumou is 45—who is dedicated to protesting the issues surrounding immigration and the treatment of immigrants. Okoumou now lives on Staten Island.
On Wednesday, Okoumou wore a shirt that read “TrumpCare makes us sick” on the front and “Rise and Resist” on the back.
The Statue of Liberty has become a symbolic staging grounds for protests against Trump administration policies. In February 2017, in the wake of the executive order that banned travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, as well as halting the arrival of Syrian refugees, protestors took to the monument to unfurl a “Refugees Welcome” banner on the statue’s pedestal.
Okoumou is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday.