Therese Okoumou: Shero for Liberty
July 6, 2018 10:46 AM   Subscribe

Therese Okoumou spent the 4th of July taking a stand for Liberty. The 44-year-old Congolese immigrant spent July 4th camped out on the Statue of Liberty to protest ICE & Trump's immigration policies. She wore a shirt stating "White Supremacy is Terrorism" and held up a sign saying "Trumpcare makes us sick." After a stand-off with police in which she stated that she wasn't coming down "until all the children are released," she was arrested for trespassing, disorderly conduct, and interference with government agency-functions and has since been released. Citing Michelle Obama, she stated: “‘When they go low, we go high.’ I went as high as I could.”
posted by sleepingwithcats (16 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
My partner drew this last night.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:56 AM on July 6 [10 favorites]

There was a Tweet with her picture and that of Bree Newsome who climbed a flagpole to take down a Confederate flag. Both heroes better than we deserve.

Hey it might be nice to list some more women of color doing incredibly brave acts of resistance on this comment thread. I know I can always use a reminder.
posted by emjaybee at 11:02 AM on July 6 [21 favorites]

I am enraged by the way the Times covered this: Statue of Liberty Climber Upends Holiday for Thousands: "A protester who scaled the base of the Statue of Liberty forced the shutdown of the monument." No, the fucking cops shut it down. An authoritarian police state's overreaction to a peaceful protest in a fucking national park is not the fault of the peaceful protester. That shit is 100% on the police state.
posted by enn at 11:14 AM on July 6 [78 favorites]

No, the fucking cops shut it down. An authoritarian police state's overreaction to a peaceful protest in a fucking national park is not the fault of the peaceful protester

This just baffled me. Establish she doesn't have explosives/weapons and then open the place. I was in Philadelphia earlier this week where the ICE office was briefly occupied and while I am no fan of the fact that eventually PPD broke the blockade and none too delicately, I was within a block of the site multiple times during the occupation and was able to move freely. They didn't have to close all of Center City or the maaany tourist destinations also within a couple blocks of the blockade because of a peaceful protest.

Besides, as a parent, the fact that we did have to do some mild detours around police activity was an opportunity to talk to our kid (some more) about democracy, protest, immigration, ICE and the carceral state.
posted by soren_lorensen at 11:24 AM on July 6 [10 favorites]

Yeah the local NY1 coverage wasn't any better - they of course had the COPS on to talk about the operation to get her down (they are ridiculously pro-cop all the time so this actually is the least surprising thing). The daily news profile i read on her got STUPID petty and mentioned a dispute with a neighbor over a vacuum cleaner - grasping at sad fucking straws just to fill column inches.

I did love that her post-arraignment speech took the opportunity to thank the Parks Police for getting her down safely while swiping at the NYPD by saying they could learn a lot from their federal counterparts about courtesy, professionalism and respect.

Is this the right venue to discuss the response put out by Rise and Resist, and the subsequent furor over their near disavowal of Patricia? It seems clear that their initial response, which was rightfully criticized for being dismissive and non-responsive, was rushed out but is that really a good enough excuse? the only person whose take on this i really care about is Patricia's, and the fact that she thanked R&R in her speech is probably a sign she wasnt as bothered by their initial messaging as some other folks were.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:24 AM on July 6 [3 favorites]

What a badass.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:46 AM on July 6 [5 favorites]

Am I the only one who thought "YOU CANT FIGHT IN HERE THIS IS THE WAR ROOM!"


Glad she did the right thing, fuck the white nationalist propaganda rags and police state bs.
posted by symbioid at 11:48 AM on July 6 [29 favorites]

just a note: the "until all the children are released," link is to the wrong url I think, it's the link to make a new post on MeFi
posted by numaner at 12:04 PM on July 6

I was struck by how serious she looked at the press conference. People were cheering her as a hero and she did not give a big smile. I have seen a lot of photos of people at protests that could double as vacation photos - grinning in a selfie, etc. I appreciated her seriousness in her message and her efforts.
posted by Emmy Rae at 12:30 PM on July 6 [6 favorites]

I am enraged by the way the Times covered this: Statue of Liberty Climber Upends Holiday for Thousands

The nationally syndicated coverage (I forgot which station, sorry) included an upset visitor saying "it ruined my vacation!"

This is all so painful that the coverage is focusing on the action and not the message(s) -- this administration has basically made it criminal to seek asylum in the United States, and as a terrorist state action "strong disincentive" to attempt to apply for asylum in the first place, children are being separated from their parent(s) and housed elsewhere, without proper documentation to reunite families at a later date.

Sure, making this solely about Okoumou's actions and failing to mention any of the reason makes it a bit less likely that this will happen again, but maybe we should put more focus on peaceful protests like this and spend less time giving armed white men a megaphone after they kill, because it would be so much better if we had more peaceful protests and fewer violent attacks.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:30 PM on July 6 [8 favorites]

My grandpa retired in the early 90s, and finally scheduled a trip to the Grand Canyon...right when Gingrich and pals played chicken over Federal funding. The national Park was shut down. Grandpa never got to see the Canyon.

People whose "vacation was ruined" by this can, honestly, suck eggs.
posted by notsnot at 12:37 PM on July 6 [23 favorites]

I'm far enough into this timeline to not be shocked by the YouTube comments - North America is crawling with Nazi sympathizers and most of us are related to at least a couple. The good thing is that these comments only amount to noise now. It seems like people who are against all this shit are being drawn face to face.

I went to my first demonstration since the 80s and while I wasn't thrilled to find that Pan flutes, samba drum bands and long winded introductions are still a thing ...a little kid gave me a bottle of water and a passing garbage truck honked it's horn - those things choked me up. We're all deciding where we stand.
posted by bonobothegreat at 12:49 PM on July 6 [3 favorites]

Newsome and Okoumou: The new face of patriotism is a woman of color climbing something.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:56 PM on July 6 [9 favorites]

Pan flutes, samba drum bands and long winded introductions are still a thing

They're not ever going away. On the plus side: a lot more dogs in cute Pride-themed sweaters!

The thing that annoys me most about the complaining about the site shutdown is that when all this is over, the same people whining now will be bragging about having been there.
posted by praemunire at 1:12 PM on July 6 [6 favorites]

Bless and thank her! That's what liberty is really about, "give me your tired, your poor..." I am the Polish and Irish granddaughter of immigrants, and the next generation of our family is multi-racial. I am so proud of Therese! This is the real Lady Liberty!
posted by mermayd at 1:12 PM on July 6 [9 favorites]

Good for her. Punch up. Hard.
posted by Splunge at 2:38 PM on July 6 [3 favorites]

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