1 of 2 | Police confront Therese "Patricia" Okoumou, who climbed to the base of the back of the Statue of Liberty on July 4 in New York City. On Monday, a federal judge found her guilty of the misdemeaners. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 17 (UPI) -- A federal judge on Monday convicted a woman who climbed the Statue of Liberty on the Fourth of July to protest President Donald Trump's immigrations policies.
Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein found Therese "Patricia" Okoumou, 44, guilty of three misdemeanors: trespassing, interference with government agency functions and disorderly conduct in the 24-foot climb to the feet of Lady Liberty that was nationally televised. She faces up to 1 1/2 years in jail in sentencing scheduled for March 5.
Okoumou caused the evacuation of Liberty Island on one of its busiest days.
Her actions "endangered herself and the [New York Police Department] and U.S. Park Police officers who rescued and apprehended her," U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement after the one-day case in the Southern District of New York. "The act of climbing the base of the Statue of Liberty went well beyond peaceable protest, a right we certainly respect. It was a crime that put people at grave risk."
Okoumou was wearing a blue outfit that included statements protesting Trump's immigration policies, including "No human is illegal on stolen land," in the Manhattan courtroom.
She said images of parents being separated from children at the border gave her nightmares.
"I had been destroyed by the plight of our broken immigration system," the former personal trainer testified on why she climbed the national monument.
In denying her reason for breaking the law, the judge cited Sir Thomas More's discussion in A Man For All Seasons. "
And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you -- where would you hide?" the famous Catholic adviser to King Henry VIII, retorted in the film.
"I think the defendant's lawyers know that if I took them up on that invitation, none of us is protected by the law," Gorenstein said.
Defense lawyer Ron Kuby wants Okoumou to be sentenced to time served.
"The fact that people say there are consequences to what you do, there is a penalty for what you have done, in no way suggests that it's proper or decent to impose those consequences or to impose those penalties," Kuby said outside the courtroom to the New York Post.