Statue of Liberty climber charged after protesting migrant family separations | News | DW | 05.07.2018
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Statue of Liberty climber charged after protesting migrant family separations

The woman had climbed the statue to protest separations at the border, saying she wouldn't leave until families were reunited. Although the president has reversed the policy, hundreds of children are still separated.

A woman who gained worldwide attention by climbing onto New York's Statue of Liberty on Independence Day (July 4) to protest the separation of migrant families at the US-Mexico border appeared in court on Thursday. She has been charged with misdemeanor counts of trespassing, disorderly conduct and interfering with governmental administration. The protester, Patricia O., pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The woman stayed on the statue for nearly four hours on Wednesday, and at one point walked from one side to the other, near Lady Liberty's foot. She told police she would not come down until separated migrant children were reunited with their families. She was eventally arrested after police erected a ladder to climb up and apprehend her.

Geoffrey Berman, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, called the protest a "dangerous stunt," adding: "While we must and do respect the rights of the people to peaceable protest, that right does not extend to breaking the law in ways that put others at risk." After her arraignment the woman was ordered released from federal custody by the presiding judge.

Read more: Immigrants strive for US passports out of fear of future

The protest action forced authorities to evacuate the premises and turn away more than 2,000 people on July 4, Independence Day in the US.

Police gesture to a protester on the Statue of Liberty

Police said they managed to bring her down from the statue without injury to her or law enforcement agents

While a protest group called "Rise and Resist NYC" first appeared to have distanced themselves from the woman, they later announced that they "unequivocally support" her.

"We realize that in our haste to complete the statement so that we could continue working to secure the best legal representation for Patricia, we unintentionally led people to believe that we were distancing the group from Patricia," the group said in a series of tweets.

Earlier on Wednesday, the protest group had taken credit for a banner hung at the base of the statue that read "Abolish ICE," referring to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency at the heart of the US migration debate.

Read more: Caravan of migrants tests Trump's anti-immigrant policies

After actively enforcing the separation of migrant families at the border, Trump has since ordered a reversal of the policy following domestic pressure from business leaders, Republican lawmakers and even his wife Melania Trump. The policy was widely criticized by European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

js,ls/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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