Okumou huddled at the monument’s base and had a four-hour standoff with law enforcement before two New York cops climbed up and took her into custody.
“She’s been taken into custody, peacefully,” said Sgt. David Somma, a National Park Service spokesman. “Thank God. It’s all over now.”
Okumou is an activist with the group ‘Rise and Resist’ which hung the banner protesting Trump’s ‘zero-tolerance’ immigration policy, but authorities still do not know if Okumou was acting under the group’s umbrella or was a renegade. She was wearing a Rise and Resist t-shirt.
The Statue of Liberty is a national monument and is administered by the National Park Service.
Who is Rise and Resist?
Rise and Resist is an American movement, primarily found in New York City, created in answer to the 2016 election of Donald Trump. The group has put together several marches and protests against Trump and his policies, as well as lent support for similar organizations’ protests, such as the 2017 Women’s March. In December 2017, Rise and Resist also joined in demonstrations against Trump’s Tax Reform Plan.
How To Legally Protest In New York City?
Okumou’s action fell under the National Park’s jurisdiction since it is federal property. There are several, although often overlapping, rules for protesting in the city.
New Yorkers, like everyone else, have the right to peacefully protest on public sidewalks, parks, plaza and streets. The right includes leaflet distribution, hold demonstrations or rallies. Each local government may dictate some restrictions on the time and location of protests while requiring a permit.
If the group, or someone who is protesting as an individual, does not plan to use amplified sounds, no permits are required. The police don’t have to be notified, but if a large group, or marching in the street, is planned a parade permit must be acquired.
Typically there are no fees to apply for a permit and the police don’t need to be notified. But if the group is big enough, the police can be counted on to have a presence. Law enforcement often provides an escort for a group marching in the streets and if contacted ahead of time, may even block off the street for the group.
Law Enforcement Seeks Information
If the group decides to contact law enforcement before the event, the police are allowed to ask questions about the event — but the caller doesn’t have to answer. Most local authorities in New York have standard guidelines for events at specific locations. A copy of the rules and guidelines is available when seeking a permit.
Banners & Signs
Groups are allowed to use banners or signs, but restrictions may be placed on the size of the banners and signs as well as the material used in the construction. Signs may not be fastened to wooden sticks, for example, so demonstrators often afix signs to cardboard tubing or simply hold them.
Neither signs nor banners are permitted to be attached to public property such as light posts or telephone poles.
Keep in mind there is a list of ‘don’ts’ when protesting or demonstrating in the city. Be sure to:
- Not block a sidewalk
- Not block a businesses entrance or exit
- Not block traffic when crossing the street
- Not touch a police officer or get in their way
- Keep the permit handy during the protest
- Make sure the group spokesperson(s) introduce themselves to law enforcement
Try to obey law enforcement’s instructions, even if it seems their action violates your First Amendment rights. Comply with their guidance first and talk to the NYCLU and an experienced attorney later.
Never interfere with an officer who is approaching or arresting someone during the event. Doing so may lead to immediate arrest. You can always watch from a distance while writing down times, names, locations and witnesses.
For any questions about protests, marches and rallies in New York City, contact an attorney experienced in civil disturbances.