Last night, a New York protester scaled a Texas building in protest of the US's controversial immigration policies. For about 8 hours, Therese Patricia Okoumou, 44, was balanced on a metal beam at the top of Austin's Southwest Key building. As the night went on, over 60 officers were on the scene attempting to get her down from the dangerous height.
During her risky protest stunt, Okoumou live-streamed her political mission and was reportedly chanting "free the children!" in retaliation against the government. She spent most of the protest avoiding the police trying to detain her, having to maneuver her way across a skinny metal beam for hours on end.
At 8 pm, Okoumou had descended the building, leaping to the ground from 15 feet up, and was wheeled into an ambulance on a stretcher to be evaluated for any injuries. Last year, Okoumou was charged for trespassing and climbing the Statue of Liberty in New York City. Her 8 hour Texas act of protest will leave her with another trespassing charge.
Okoumou's mission was to bring attention to the difficult immigration laws that are currently causing distress in the nation. She wants the people in her country to keep talking about the issue and to make a stand against the controversial laws so there can be a positive change.
Her mission to get attention from the media and to start a political conversation was definitely achieved, with online users across the nation stating their vast array of opinions for all to see. Her building-scaling protest was received very differently by those following her story, from people who shared their support towards her actions to those who had very negative, threatening opinions to say.
Twitter, the main source of the comments and engagement from the followers of her protest, was undoubtedly split.
Thank you Patricia Okoumou for taking this huge risk while climbing the children detention center in Austin, Texas! 👏✊❤️ Congress must stop ICE and CBP from arresting and detaining children, parents, and our loved ones. #DefundHate #HereToStay https://t.co/L3x1slShPt— United We Dream (@UNITEDWEDREAM) February 20, 2019
Some Twitter users were moved by her brave actions to take a physical stand for those who are being unjustly detained and removed from the country. Immigrant youth-led organization United We Dream left an encouraging and thankful message to Okoumou for her acts against the government, sharing that Congress needs to stop separating and harming the lives of families of different legal statuses.
Good for her!!! Don't know why negotiators are there.. she's not threatening to jump... just giving a message.— Lifetime Longhorn (@Mad_SkillzATX) February 20, 2019
This woman is putting herself at great risk and pain to shine the light on real crimes against children and families.— What are you doing? (@crime_your) February 20, 2019
Why are you so mean to her?
Is it stupid and idiotic to stand up for the vulnerable?
Is it clever to be cruel?
Other supportive Twitter users, such as @Mad_SkillzATX and @crime_your sent positive responses towards Okoumou's goal and were unbothered by her actions as long as the message was received by the media. Most supporters were excited to see her acting so boldly in order to get attention, and knew she wasn't doing anything dangerous towards other people.
On the other hand, the other half of Twitter responders were upset, enraged or disappointed at the protest and were more than happy to share their opinions with the internet.
can we all just agree to stop 'raising awareness' on whatever social injustice you pulled out of a hat today?— SnarkyGrumkin (@GrumkinSnarky) February 20, 2019
The popular argument was that political protestors aren't going to make a difference and they should quit making big scenes that could disrupt society and the police force. Users like @GrumkinSnarky state that protesting to spread awareness of a message is pointless and doesn't actually make a change in our country.
What a waste of our first responders' valuable time and resources.— Dipi (@Dipi90778371) February 20, 2019
This immigrant from the Congo protests our country rather than appreciating the freedom and opportunity she has here.
Lock her up for endangering the lives of firefighters and police trying to save her.— MadMike (@MadMike8675309) February 21, 2019
Twitter users against the 8-hour political protest such as @Dipi90778371 and @MadMike8675309 claim that Okoumou's actions were a waste of time, resources and media coverage. The lives of the police and firefighters are put at risk when a big protest occurs, and it can be unfair to those serving to protect their country.
No matter which side of the argument people take towards Therese Patricia Okoumou's actions, she still went through with her organized protest against US immigration policies and definitely did achieve her goal of gaining attention. The media was definitely stirred by her protest and the countrywide conversation about potential injustices in the US government was once again brought into the spotlight.