Why A Protester Climbed The Base Of The Statue Of Liberty On Independence Day

Many on Twitter praised her for the act.

On Independence Day, a woman climbed the base of the Statue of Liberty to protest the separation of immigrant families at the border. According to CNN, Liberty Island was evacuated and the protester was eventually arrested after a standoff with police, which lasted several hours.

The woman has been identified as Therese Patricia Okoumou. BuzzFeed reports that she herself is an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She reportedly told authorities that she would not come down until "all the children are released." 

Okoumou's action has earned praise from many on Twitter, who applauded her for drawing attention to an important issue on such a significant day for the United States, and in such a symbolic place. "She's forced us to pay attention in case people's attention is drifting," wrote one user. Others shared photos of her sitting at the statue's feet.

Okoumou was reportedly part of a protest group called Rise and Resist, who earlier in the day unfurled a banner reading "Abolish ICE" at the statue. Several protesters were arrested. However, the group tweeted that Okoumou's climb was not part of the planned protest. 

"We understand and share her desire to see the immediate release of children from detention and reunion with their parents," the organization said in a statement, per BuzzFeed. According to CNN, the group also said they are "working to secure the best legal representation" for Okoumou.

"We thought we wanted to do something on our Independence Day, a day that obviously is meant for reflection on the ideals on which this nation was founded. This country has posited itself as a beacon. Right now, we have a government that is actively turning its back on those ideals," Jay W. Walker, an organizer of Rise and Resist, told CNN of the purpose of the group's protest.

Last year, a banner was hung at the base of the statue which read "Refugees Welcome." Such messages are in keeping with Lady Liberty's inscription, which reads, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Cover image: Delpixel / Shutterstock.com

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