It happened before dawn in the dark hours of the morning. A pickaxe, a sidewalk and the sad remains of one of Hollywood’s most popular tourist spots the Walk of Fame. The star belonging to newly-appointed president-elect Donald Trump was destroyed in an act debated to be in the category of freedom of speech or simply vandalistic.
Awarded to Trump in 2007, it has drawn crowds in multitudes to catch a glimpse of the star belonging to the real estate mogul-turned-politician, but the question remained whether the act — politically motivated or not — could be considered a felony for an extreme act of vandalism.
This is not the first attack on the star, considering that when Trump announced his White House bid, the response was a reverse swastika spray-painted over the golden emblem. July saw a small wall and wire set up around the star in response to Trump’s controversial comments concerning his immigration policy. Both acts of vandalism were quickly cleaned up and the star was set anew for viewing the following day.
Reactions were mixed for the desecration of the former “The Apprentice” host’s star of recognition, with people taking to Twitter to condemn the act as a hateful way to respond to disagreeing with Trump’s ideals. Others chose more colorful ways to defend the destruction with sentiments as “Make the Hollywood Walk of Fame Great Again,” a play on Trump’s campaign slogan.
The perpetrator, a man named James Otis, heir to the Otis Elevator Co. fortune, said he was proud of his work, according to Deadline. An avid participant in protests having been involved in more than two dozen for various causes, Otis donned a construction worker uniform and wielded a sledgehammer as he marched into Tinseltown ready to attempt to remove the star.
“It was an act of civil disobedience, freedom of expression,” Otis said in a statement to NBC4. “I did it, and I’m very happy I did it, and I’m proud that I did it.”
Reports were made the millionaire activist had originally planned to remove and auction the star off to raise money for the 12 women who recently came forward with allegations that Trump sexually assaulted them, following released recordings of some questionable statements he made .
“I admitted I’ve broken the law, I’ve vandalized, I’ve stolen and now I’m going to go get my punishment,” Otis said in another statement. “And that’s something Mr. Trump has never done.”
Considering the Walk of Fame is a historical landmark, Otis faces the possibility of serious fines or three years’ prison time, with his court date set for Nov. 18, while the star is in the process of being repaired.
“Of course I respect anyone’s freedom of speech and you can hate Trump all you want, but why would you want to represent yourself and (which candidate) you represent like that?” said Cheyenne Ranoa. freshman psychology major. “It’s disrespectful. That’s not your property. That’s not up to you to do.”