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Feds: Patricia Okoumou, who scaled Statue of Liberty, deserves jail time

Prosecutors say Okoumou has re-offended since her arrest and must be incarcerated. Her lawyers have urged she get a short period of home confinement and community service.

Patricia Okoumou speaks at a rally in Huntington

Patricia Okoumou speaks at a rally in Huntington Station in February. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Manhattan federal prosecutors have asked a judge to sentence activist Patricia Okoumou to 30 days in jail for climbing the Statue of Liberty last July 4 in a protest of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

In a letter to U.S. Magistrate Gabriel Gorenstein, who will sentence Okoumou next Tuesday, the government said that after her conviction she was arrested again during a climbing protest over immigration issues in Texas and needed to be incarcerated to deter future lawbreaking.

“Her behavior since her arrest, and especially since her conviction, has shown flagrant disregard for the law and for the Court,” said prosecutors, who urged the judge to also put Okoumou on probation for three years to give the court “ongoing authority” to make her comply with the law.

Okoumou, 45, of Staten Island, a naturalized Congolese immigrant, was convicted in December of trespass and other crimes for scaling the pedestal of the statue and refusing to come down, leading to the evacuation of Liberty Island. She faces up to 18 months in prison

She is a fierce critic of the Trump administration’s separation of immigrant children from their families, but prosecutors and the judge have both said the protest put both members of the public underneath her and law enforcement personnel who had to remove her at risk.

Just before her December trial, prosecutors say, she twice scaled the Eiffel Tower in France and had to be removed. In February, after her conviction, she climbed the headquarters of an Austin, Texas, contractor that detains immigrant children, refused to leave, and was charged with trespass.

At a bail revocation hearing earlier this month, Gorenstein ordered home detention with an electronic bracelet to monitor Okoumou's whereabouts and told her to look for a job.

Okoumou’s lawyers have argued that her protest created no danger, jail time for a Statue of Liberty protest would be unprecedented and that jail would prevent her from getting a job.

They have urged that she be given a short period of home confinement and community service.

Okoumou has said she will stage a hunger strike if she is incarcerated and has declined to comment when asked if she will stop breaking the law.


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