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Lady Liberty Gets Probation

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After Trump put people in cages, Okoumou said of her action, "I had had enough. We have gone so low as a country I had to climb as high as I could to raise consciousness.” AP photo.

Patricia Okoumou, the Congolese immigrant facing up to 18 months in prison for climbing the Statue Of Liberty last July 4th to protest Trump's vile child separation policy, was given five years of probation and 200 hours of community service Tuesday by a New York judge who called out her lack of "remorse" and warned she would be jailed if she undertook another act of civil disobedience - something Okoumou says she fully intends to do. The 46-year-old Okoumu was found guilty in December on three charges - trespassing, interference with agency functions, and disorderly conduct - after her dramatic scaling of Lady Liberty during a Rise and Resist action. Since then, she has also climbed the Eiffel Tower, a Border Patrol Museum in San Antonio, Texas, and a migrant detention center in Austin, all to protest the administration's ongoing crimes against children and other immigrants. Because the Austin action was deemed a violation of her probation, she has been under house arrest in Staten Island for the last two weeks.
 
Okoumou arrived at court Tuesday with her face and mouth covered in clear tape to symbolize the threat posed to her freedom of speech; she also wore - thanks Melania - an "I care" headband and a jacket reading "I really do care." U.S. Magistrate Gabriel Gorenstein asked her to remove the tape before sentencing; she complied, thereby giving her a chance to speak her mind. "I do not belong in prison. I am not a criminal," said Okoumou, a naturalized citizen who came to the U.S. in 1994. "I am frightened by this country's moral bankruptcy." Addressing the judge, she charged that Trump has terrorized immigrant families. “Your society is not an advanced civilization, your honor," she said. "We live in a rotten system, and the courts are no exception." Despite the terms of her probation, Okoumou has said she feels compelled to continue speaking up. “We could reach peace by simple acts of kindness, peaceful protest, and civil disobedience, (but) we are complicit,” she said. “If each one of us did a fraction of what I did, the world would find peace.”

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After her sentencing. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

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