James Otis arrived at the Hollywood Walk of Fame before the sun broke over the horizon Wednesday morning with his tools of choice: a sledgehammer and a pick.
Then, wearing a hard hat and construction vest, he got to work laying waste of Donald Trump’s star.
His assault on the pavement was caught on video, but Otis didn’t care. He spoke openly by phone later of his disdain for the Republican presidential candidate, business mogul and reality TV star.
“I just sort of had enough with Mr. Trump’s aggressive language toward women and his behavior, his sexual violence with women and against women,” Otis said of recent accusations, which Trump has called false. “I’ve had personally in my own family four people who have been assaulted or have had sexual violence happen to them. It all became very personal.”
Trump’s star near the Hollywood and Highland complex on Hollywood Boulevard has had a rough go of it since he became a leading presidential candidate.
It has been stomped on and people have spray-painted a swastika and “mute” icon on it. Someone else built a miniature border wall around the star.
But Wednesday’s vandalism trumped anything that had come before it.
Los Angeles police received a call at 6 a.m. reporting the sidewalk defacement. They later recovered a sledgehammer, a pick, a construction hat and a construction vest, said LAPD Officer Sal Ramirez. The offense would be considered felony vandalism, Ramirez said.
Damage to the star was estimated at $2,500, Ramirez said. There are no suspects in custody, police said.
A crowd of media and tourists watch as a new Donald Trump star is installed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame after it was vandalized.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
A new Donald Trump star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is being installed after it was vandalized.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
People gather at Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame after it was vandalized.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
LAPD Det. Meghan Aguilar talks to the media near Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which was vandalized Wednesday morning.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Mitch Fong, right, takes a photo of Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame after it was vandalized.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Gregg Donovan places a Donald Trump bumper sticker at the GOP presidential nominee’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Otis, who identified himself as the culprit in a report by Deadline, said he spent weeks planning his “nonviolent action,” even going as far as spending a couple of nights in Hollywood to scope out the area to pick a time where he could do it, “safely, carefully and successfully.”
Otis said he originally intended to remove the brass star outline intact, but could not get the actual star because the concrete was too strong.
He ended up taking the TV emblem, some of the letters of Trump’s name and a little piece the star, which he said he plans to auction off on election day to raise money for the women who have accused Trump of sexual assault, as well as for a college campus organization that is working to stop sexual violence.
“I did the action and I fully will comply with the law once I set a time up with my attorney to [turn] myself in,” Otis said. “I will gladly pay the damages to the site.”
Trump has called the accusations against him that have piled up in recent weeks false, vowing to sue the women who have leveled them.
Trump, who starred in the reality shows “The Apprentice” and “The Celebrity Apprentice,” received his star in 2007. Officials previously have said there were no plans to remove it.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which operates the Walk of Fame, is working with police and will seek to have the offender prosecuted, the chamber said in a statement.
Repair of the star was already underway Wednesday, said Leron Gubler, the chamber’s president and chief executive, but it will require, “several days of seasoning before it is polished.”
There has been at least one similar incident in the past, when someone took a sledgehammer to the star of Carmen Dragon, an American conductor, composer and arranger, several years ago, Gubler said.
That person was caught and required to pay restitution, Gubler said.
“Unfortunately these things happen,” Gubler said. “It is rare. It’s only happened one or two other times.”
While Trump’s star has endured its fair share of abuse in the past, including having garbage thrown on it, there’s been, “nothing this significant,” done to it, Gubler said.
“We live in a pluralistic society that requires people to work out issues and discuss issues, not to take out their frustrations in this manner,” Gubler said. “Democracy requires respect for the law. Most people I think would be very dismayed by this type of vandalism, no matter who they support for the election.”
Times staff writer Joseph Serna contributed to this report.
1:15 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from James Otis, who claimed responsibility for vandalizing the star.
11:04 a.m.: This article was updated with a statement from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
8:55 a.m.: This article was updated with details on estimated damage to the star and items recovered by police.
This article was originally published at 8:15 a.m.