Trump Star Smasher Pleads Not Guilty to Vandalism - NBC New York
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Trump Star Smasher Pleads Not Guilty to Vandalism

James Otis says he intended to remove the Hollywood Boulevard star and auction it off to raise money for women who accused then-candidate Donald Trump of sexual assault



    James Otis Apologizes for Smashing Trump Star

    James Otis says he's had some time to reflect on his actions after destroying Donald Trump's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Published Friday, Nov. 18, 2016)

    A man who said he used a sledgehammer and pick ax to deface Donald Trump's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last month to make a political statement pleaded not guilty Friday to a charge of felony vandalism.

    James Lambert Otis, 52, an heir to the Otis Elevator fortune, is due back in court Dec. 5 for a hearing. He could face up to three years in jail if convicted, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

    When asked last month about his then-likely arrest for vandalizing the star at 5:45 a.m. on Oct. 26, Otis said, "I'm not frightened of jail and I'm certainly not frightened of Mr. Trump. What punishment I get is fine."

    Otis said outside of court Friday that he's had time to look back on his destructive protest and now believes there would have been a better way to express his displeasure with the President-elect.

    Man Who Smashed Trump's Star: 'It Was an Act of Civil Disobedience'

    [LA] Man Who Smashed Trump's Star: 'It Was an Act of Civil Disobedience'
    The man who smashed Donald Trump's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame stands by his actions. Robert Kovacik reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016.
    (Published Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016)

    "Upon reflection after my arrest, I had said I was proud and felt very good about destroying Mr. Trump's star," Otis said after Friday's hearing. "However, now I realize I was wrong, that I shouldn't have done it. And now I'm going to focus my energies and time to fight Mr. Trump non-violently across the country as the whole country is doing this.

    "While reflecting I realized non-violence is the way to protest Mr. Trump. By destroying that star, it was wrong and I apologize for that, and I hope no one else will affect and hurt the Hollywood Walk of Fame stars."

    Otis previously said that he originally intended to "remove" the entire star from the 6800 block of Hollywood Boulevard, auction it off in New York and give the money to the nearly dozen women who allege they were groped or sexually mistreated by Trump, who has denied those allegations. But Otis said he was unable to accomplish the feat, so he removed a brass medallion from the star after using a sledgehammer and a pick ax to smash it up.

    "It was very difficult. The stone was like marble -- hard to get through," Otis said a short time later. "It would have taken an hour."

    Dressed in construction-worker garb, including a high visibility vest and hard-hat, Otis used the hammer and pick ax to hack away Trump's name and the logo indicating the star had been awarded in the category of television -- for Trump's work on "The Apprentice."

    Otis, who said several members of his family had been victims of sexual assault, was arrested the following day by Los Angeles police and released on a $20,000 bond. Ana Martinez of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce said that replacing the star would cost "a few thousand dollars."

    The star has remained blocked off since its destruction as workers make repairs. It's expected to be unveiled soon, according to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

    Otis said he spent several nights in Hollywood preparing to carry out what he called an act of non-violent protest. He said he has been arrested about two dozen times in the past for protesting various causes.

    In this case, however, he acknowledged that an act of vandalism may have crossed the line of non-violence.

    "I destroyed the star, but considering the violence that has been committed (by Trump) -- I'm a little sad that I had to (damage the star)," he said. "I'm usually always non-violent. It seems in this one instance I broke some stone and marble to make a point."