Statue of Liberty climber unrepentant

NEW YORK (AP) – An unrepentant protester who climbed the base of the Statue of Liberty on a busy Fourth of July in what prosecutors called a “dangerous stunt” pleaded not guilty on Thursday to misdemeanor trespassing and disorderly conduct.

Activists packed into a Manhattan courtroom cheered when a federal magistrate judge released Therese Okoumou without bail after she had spent the night behind bars. Okoumou responded by raising her fist and blowing kisses to her supporters.

Outside court, the naturalized U.S. citizen from Congo said she climbed the landmark as a spur-of-the-moment protest over the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policies that resulted in the separation of immigrant children from parents accused of crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

“When they go low, we go high, and I went as high as I could,” Okoumou said, paraphrasing former first lady Michelle Obama. “No children belong in a cage.”

Okoumou, who goes by her middle name, Patricia, sported a T-shirt reading “White Supremacy is Terrorism,” which she had worn inside-out in court.

President Donald Trump, during a campaign rally in Montana, called her a “clown.”

“You saw that clown yesterday on the Statue of Liberty. You see that guys that went up there. I wouldn’t have done it,” the Republican president said Thursday night, praising the bravery of police officers who ascended the statue’s base and persuaded her to climb down.

He added: “I would have said, ‘Let’s gets some nets, and let’s wait till she comes down. Just get some nets.'”