Today Patricia Okoumou, the activist who climbed the Statue of Liberty on July 4th, 2018 in protest of the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policies was sentenced to five years of probation and 200 hours of community service. She had faced up to 18 months in prison after a judge found her guilty of trespassing, interference with agency functions and disorderly conduct in December 2018.
In a show of solidarity, supporters of Okoumou gathered in front of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Federal Court House in Manhattan. Her face covered in clear tape to protest the limits imposed on her freedom of expression, she embraced her backers, among them Reverend Billy before she went inside the courthouse.
Ms. Okoumou who had been under house arrest since March 1st, 2019 for climbing the Southwest Detention Center in Austin in February appeared before Manhattan Federal Court Magistrate Gabriel Gorenstein. He inquired why there was tape on her face and asked her to either remove it or push the sentencing back to another day. The judge drew the ire of her supporters who also attended the sentencing hearing when he commented that Patricia Okoumou had not held a job for a long time and that her activism was only a publicity stunt to enrich herself. In his sentencing, Judge Gorenstein made it clear that the 46-year-old activist would be jailed if she continued to break the law during any more protests.
After her sentencing, Okoumou addressed her supporters and the media, “We cannot be complicit in a society that is caging children and babies, that is not normal guys.” When asked how willing she was to not engage in any other protest to ensure she won’t end up serving jail time, the activist responded, “How willing is the Trump Administration going to listen to the Court, to the American public? I mean, did he not take an oath? Why is he violating our constitution? Why is he engaged in this humanitarian crisis? That’s wrong!”