Though it may be true that you’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything, you can’t go climbing everything. That’s the point U.S. District Judge Gabriel Gorenstein tried to make when he found Patricia Okoumou guilty on three criminal misdemeanor counts for climbing the Statue of Liberty on July 4, 2018, which resulted in evacuation of the entire park area due to the protest stunt.
Okomou Would Climb the Statue of Liberty Again
Okoumou, a Congolese immigrant, scaled the Statue of Liberty on July 4th, in order to bring attention to what she describes as the “zero-tolerance” immigration policy the Trump administration has enforced, and vowed she would make the climb again, “as long as our children are in cages.” Okomou has been anything but apologetic for the crimes she committed, and has become a bit of a folk hero among immigrant supporters. She was the only witness her star studded defense team brought,including Michael Avenatti and Ron Kuby.
The trial only lasted half a day, with the judge swiftly handing down a guilty verdict. Okoumou was released on her own recognizance while awaiting sentencing, and faces up to 18 months in prison for the three misdemeanor charges: trespassing, interference with government agency functions and disorderly conduct.
Rules Are Rules
Judge Gorenstein, though taken with Okomou’s sincerity, clearly wanted to set a precedent for both sides protesting Trump’s immigration policy. Gorenstein recited a quote from “A Man For All Seasons,” and then explained why he couldn’t be more sympathetic to Okomou’s case. The judge challenged Okomou’s defenders, who filled the courtroom past capacity, to consider someone with completely opposite politics breaking the same laws and asking for leniency. Rules are rules, and Okomou clearly broke them when she scaled the Statue of Liberty and left “Abolish I.C.E.” stickers on it during the standoff with U.S Park Police officers, and failed to come down for four hours while sitting twenty five foot up on the statue’s base.
If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges for civil rights activism, contact a local criminal defense attorney. The constitution affords many rights when standing up for our freedoms. A lawyer may be able to minimize, or even eliminate, any negative criminal affects from voicing your civic pride.