NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A woman climbed the Statue of Liberty on Wednesday and refused to come down for about three hours.
She lay by Lady Liberty’s foot, roughly 100 feet off the ground, swinging her legs, waving below and even taking off her shoes to try to climb farther.
All the while, NYPD officers surrounded her in helicopters and on the ground to get her down safely.
“It seemed very dangerous,” one witness told CBS2’s Ali Bauman.
Tourists first noticed the woman, identified as Therese Okoumou, around 3 p.m.
“We were about to load the ship, and I was like, ‘is that a person hanging from the statue?’” witness Rachel McKinnon said. “So my husband pointed out to the ranger, and all of a sudden, he grabbed his radio and starting calling, and all of a sudden, there was just police running.”
Visitors were evacuated from Liberty Island via tour boats, as two Emergency Services Unit officers climbed a ladder to the statue’s base, hoping to reason with the woman.
“The angles that we had to go on, it was difficult to basically stand. There was nothing for us to grab,” Det. Brian Glacken said.
The officers said initially she was hostile.
“In the beginning, she basically threatened to push us off, push the ladder off,” said Glacken.
But they kept calmly talking to her. Around 6:30 p.m. they finally had her cornered and could secure a safety line on her to walk her down and put her in handcuffs.
“I think the turning point was that we had a good rapport with her, and when we got her and she couldn’t go any farther, I think she realized that her time was up up there,” Glacken said.
CBS2 was told Okoumou came to Liberty Island with a group of protesters, seven of whom were arrested hours earlier for hanging a banner that read “ABOLISH ICE.” The group said Okoumou quietly broke away while they were leaving, and climbing up was never part of the plan.
“There was definitely some people that was upset that it’s ruining their Fourth of July, but for me, it’s definitely just the safety of the person that’s up there,” one man said.
“Today, it just makes me really thankful for all the policemen and firemen who were at the scene quickly,” said a woman.
Okoumou is charged with trespassing, interference with national park regulations and disorderly conduct. She’s being held at Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan and is expected to be arraigned Thursday morning.
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Another Witness Describes The Scene
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Last year a banner appeared across the base of the Statue of Liberty bearing the words “Refugees Welcome.”