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Statue of Liberty climber in custody after forcing evacuation

Media captionThe person could be seen climbing around the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York

The woman who climbed up on the Statue of Liberty and sat on the monument’s base is in detention, police say.

Tourists were evacuated from Liberty Island in New York Harbour on Wednesday during a three-hour stand-off with local and federal authorities.

She has been named by US media as Therese Okoumou, a 44-year-old immigrant from DR Congo.

Ms Okoumou was reportedly protesting against President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy on immigration.

Earlier, several people were arrested after holding a protest at the statue.

Members of the activist group Rise and Resist had earlier unveiled an “Abolish Ice” banner on the statue’s pedestal, which refers to the government’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency responsible for identifying and removing undocumented immigrants throughout the United States.

National Park Service police and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) were later called to the scene shortly after reports of an individual climbing the monument.

One eyewitness, Eric Kwasi Oppongto, posted a short video of the incident on Twitter which he said involved an individual with a T-shirt emblazoned with “Trump care makes me sick” and “Rise and Resist”.

Another user, Sarah, said the island was being “evacuated of all tourists”.

It took police three hours to coax Ms Okoumou down via a ladder that had been secured to the statue’s pedestal. They said prosecutors would decide later whether she would be charged with any crime.

Detective Brian Glacken of the NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit said it had not been an easy operation.

“It was a really technical rescue just because of the slopes up there – I mean, it wasn’t a flat surface. There was nothing for [my colleague] Chris [Williams] and I to grab on to,” he said.

“At first she wasn’t friendly with us but we took our time to basically get a dialogue with her… when we got her and she couldn’t go any further I think she realised that her time was up up there.”

Rise and Resist, which organised the earlier demonstration involving the Abolish Ice slogan, had initially denied any connection to the climber.

They later admitted Ms Okoumou, a personal trainer, had helped plan the banner demonstration but that she had carried out her climbing stunt alone.

Demonstrations have recently taken place across the country after it emerged that Ice agents had separated thousands of young children from parents who had entered the US illegally.

Wednesday’s incidents took place on the US independence holiday 4 July.

In February last year, protesters hung a giant “Refugees Welcome” banner across the Liberty statue’s observation deck.

Attaching items to the national monument, a symbol of American acceptance of immigrants, is strictly prohibited, according to the state’s National Park Service police.

Statue of Liberty climber in custody after forcing evacuation

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