The woman that climbed on the Statue of Liberty as a way to protest family separations on the border last year was sentenced to five years of probation on Tuesday.
According to BuzzFeed News, Therese Patricia Okoumou was caught by the police after attempting to climb the statue on July 4, 2018. She was charged with trespass, disorderly conduct, and interference with agency functions, which in other cases ends up to 18 months in jail.
When she was arrested Okoumou stated that she climbed the monument in order to bring attention to the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families who crossed the border illegally.
Okoumou said in court on Tuesday that “I do not need probation and I do not belong in prison. I am not a criminal.”
Although the prosecutors asked for her to serve a month in prison, Judge Gabriel Gorenstein ultimately decided that five years of probation and 200 hours of community service was the right punishment.
When Trump was elected president, Okoumou said that she went from having never protested before to making it a part of her daily routine. She would go to work as a personal trainer from 5:30 a.m. to about 11 a.m., stop at home to eat, grab her banners and signs, and spend the rest of the day protesting in front of Trump Tower in New York City.
“I was having nightmares about the children in cages,” she says. “Having been born and raised from the Republic of Congo, I used my background as some sort of encyclopedia to become a check of (sic) balance on what I’m witnessing around me.”
That’s what led her to join a direct-action group called Rise and Resist that was protesting US Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Liberty Island last July 4. Okoumou didn’t tell them she was going to try to climb the statue.
“I didn’t tell a soul and I was not intending to tell a soul because there was no time for me to be discouraged or be swayed in a different direction,” she says. “This was a mission.”