Last year activist Therese Patricia Okoumou shocked and awed when she scaled the Statue of Liberty in protest of Trump’s border separation policy which harshly affected the lives of thousands of families at the Southern border.
On Tuesday Okoumou was sentenced to five years probation and 200 hours of community service, according to New York Daily News. Prosecutors initially asked that Okoumou be sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years probation, according to amNY. She pleaded not guilty to the incident.
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Okoumou, 45, appeared in court with clear tape wrapped several times around her face to emulate the suppression of free speech along with a white headband that displayed the words “I care!” across the front. The phrase is possibly a retort against Melania Trump’s choice of wearing a Zara jacket with the words, “I really don’t care, do u?” across her back during a June 2018 visit to the Texas-Mexico border.
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Federal Court Magistrate Gabriel Gorenstein asked Okoumou to remove the tape in order to advance the hearing. “If you want to proceed, she can take the tape off,” he said.
Since her arrest in July, Okoumou has navigated numerous court hearings, always sending a strong message in regards to her life work. Okoumou, a naturalized Congolese immigrant who resides in Staten Island, did not hold back when she did finally speak.
“I am frightened by this country’s moral bankruptcy,” Okoumou said during the hearing.. “Your society is not an advanced civilization, your honor. Donald J. Trump terrorized immigrant families entering the country — legally.”
“She did not climb the Statue of Liberty to rescue a child,” Gorenstein said during Okoumou’s sentencing. “The law that prevents people from climbing the Statue of Liberty is not unjust.”
“The defendant apparently thinks because her cause is important, it doesn’t matter the danger she causes others,” he continued.
In December, Okoumou was found guilty of trespassing, interference with government agency functions and disorderly conduct and faced up to 18 months in prison
In December before her sentencing prosecutors argued Okoumou was detained for climbing the Eiffel Tower twice, and then in February after her conviction, Okoumou was found guilty of climbing the headquarters of an Austin, Texas, contractor that detains immigrant children. She was charged with trespassing.
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