The man who tried to erase a symbol of Donald Trump's fame is about to become a bit famous in his own right.
James Otis was arrested for vandalizing Donald Trump's Hollywood Walk of Fame star Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Reports surfaced Wednesday morning of a man dressed as a construction worker taking a sledgehammer to Trump's plaque, a $30,000 tourist attraction, on Hollywood Boulevard, rendering it illegible. The star, which was dedicated to Trump in 2007 as a salute to his fame and success as a reality TV celebrity, had been defaced previously during this election cycle.
Otis was arrested around 8 a.m. local time in Los Angeles. Police had asked for information on the suspect Wednesday after news of what had happened began to break. Otis had planned to give a press conference Thursday explaining his actions but was taken into custody before he could do so.
Multiple videos posted to social media Wednesday by pedestrians and reporters who were quick to the scene showed the phony construction worker defacing the star. In some videos he identified himself as Jamie Otis and said that as a person with family members who had been the victim of sexual assault that he was "terribly upset" that "the poster boy for sexual assault" was a serious presidential candidate.
Otis, who was previously tracked down by Deadline, told the outlet that he intended to remove Trump’s star to auction it off next month in New York to raise funds for the women who have come forward to accuse Trump of sexual assault. More than a dozen women have made allegations against Trump, who has responded with indignation and threats to bring lawsuits.
Otis is reportedly an heir to the Otis family elevator fortune. Deadline noted that Otis could face three years in jail and more than $10,000 in fines.
Trump's Walk of Fame star, which is one of more than 2,500 lining Hollywood Boulevard, was previously defaced in January when an unidentified vandal spray painted a swastika on it. In July, a Los Angeles-based artist constructed a model wall around Trump's star, mockingly referencing Trump's promise to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border to curb illegal immigration. The Hollywood Historic Trust and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, the bodies that oversee the Walk of Fame, restored the star to its original appearances in both of those cases and will replace the star again this week. They have not responded to a petition asking for the star to be permanently removed.
"Donald Trump has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and it has been vandalized again and again since the start of his presidential campaign. It’s clear that the community does not think he deserves to be represented there," reads the petition on Care2.com, which has over 42,000 signatures to date. "The fact that Donald Trump has a star along with the likes of Meryl Streep, Bill Murray and Audrey Hepburn is an insult in and of itself. The presidential candidate and former reality TV star has been spawning hateful, sexist and racist rhetoric since the beginning of his campaign."