Pro­tester shuts down Statue of Lib­erty on July 4

The Standard Journal - - POLICE & FIRE - By Jen­nifer Peltz and Jake Pear­son

A protest against U.S. im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy forced the evac­u­a­tion of the Statue of Lib­erty on the Fourth of July, with a group un­furl­ing a ban­ner from the pedestal and a woman hold­ing po­lice at bay for hours af­ter she climbed the base and sat by the statue’s robes.

The woman and at least a half-dozen demon­stra­tors who dis­played the ban­ner were ar­rested, while the climb forced thou­sands of vis­i­tors to leave the iconic Amer­i­can sym­bol on the na­tion’s birth­day.

About 100 feet (30 me­ters) above­ground, the woman en­gaged in a four-hour stand­off with po­lice be­fore two of­fi­cers climbed up to the base and went over to her. With the dra­matic scene un­fold­ing on live tele­vi­sion, she and the of­fi­cers edged care­fully around the statue to­ward a lad­der, and she climbed down about 25 feet to the mon­u­ment’s ob­ser­va­tion point and was taken into cus­tody.

The woman, Therese Ok­oumou, told po­lice she was protest­ing the sep­a­ra­tion of im­mi­grant chil­dren from par­ents who cross the U.S.Mex­ico bor­der il­le­gally, ac­cord­ing to a fed­eral of­fi­cial who was briefed on what hap­pened but wasn’t au­tho­rized to dis­cuss it and spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity. A mes­sage left at a pos­si­ble phone num­ber for Ok­oumou wasn’t im­me­di­ately re­turned.

The climber was among about 40 demon­stra­tors who ear­lier un­furled a ban­ner call­ing for abol­ish­ing the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s chief im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment agency, said Jay W. Walker, an or­ga­nizer with Rise and Re­sist, which ar­ranged the demon­stra­tion.

Walker said the other demon­stra­tors had no idea the woman would make the as­cent, which wasn’t part of the planned protest.

“We don’t know whether she had this planned be­fore she ever got to Lib­erty Is­land or whether it was a spur-of-the-mo­ment de­ci­sion,” Walker said.

/ AP

A per­son, cen­ter, leans against the robes of the Statue of Lib­erty on Lib­erty Is­land, as one of the po­lice of­fi­cers climbed up on a lad­der to stand on a ledge nearby talk­ing the climber into descend­ing in New York on Wed­nes­day.

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