Jay W. Walker, one of the group’s organizers, said that Ms. Okoumou, who is known to other members as Patricia, had been involved with Rise and Resist for several months. He described her as active, regularly taking part in the group’s events. But on Wednesday, he said, other members were not aware of her plans to climb the statue.
“She’s a free citizen in the world — it’s a choice she made,” Mr. Walker said. “I think the choice she made is certainly bringing more attention to the overall protest.”
He added, “We don’t condemn her for the choice she made, and we’re going to do anything we can to support her.”
The Statue of Liberty, the colossal mint-green monument and one of the most visible attractions linked to New York City, has long been a potent protest symbol, with a history about as old as the statue itself as a stage for political demonstrations.
Suffragists protested at its unveiling in 1886, circling the island in a boat. In 1976, members of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War barricaded themselves inside the monument to protest cuts in education benefits, and last year, a group hung a banner that said “refugees welcome.”
“On a day like Independence Day, we felt that it was the perfect melding of these huge symbols of what this country stands for,” Mr. Walker said of Rise and Resist.
But the Statue of Liberty is also a draw for visitors who have come from around the world, and Mr. Willis said that Ms. Okoumou’s actions, which he described as a stunt, ruined the plans of the many others who tried to visit the island.
“It is their one and only chance to come here,” he said. “Unfortunately, we had to clear the island.”