In Conversation: Patricia Okoumou is the Immigrant Rights Activist Facing Jail time for Climbing the Statue of Liberty
We talked to the Congolese-American activist through the window of the apartment where she's currently under house arrest.
When I went to interview Patricia Okoumou, the Congolese-American woman who scaled the Statue of Liberty last 4th of July to protest the child separation policy, she asked me to bring her a large, black, dark roast coffee from Au Bon Pain. This is not the most unusual request, but I had to hand her the coffee through the window of her ground floor apartment in Staten Island, New York where she is being held under house arrest. On March 1st, she was found guilty on three misdemeanor charges, and faces up to 18 months in prison.
In December, she climbed the Eiffel Tower, and in February, while delivering Valentine's Day cards to separated migrant children in Texas, she decided to climb the Austin, Texas headquarters of Southwest Key, which operates child detention centers. The Austin action violated the terms of her bail, and she is now under house arrest wearing an ankle bracelet until her sentencing on March 19th, making the conditions of her bail now more severe than that of Harvey Weinstein. U.S. authorities have forcibly separated at least 2,855 children from their parents or guardian at the border since April 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I spoke to Okoumou through the window of her apartment on a chilly afternoon marking International Women's Day.