Man pleads not guilty to vandalizing Trump's Walk of Fame star
LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A man who admitted damaging Donald Trump's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last month to make a political statement pleaded not guilty Friday to a felony charge of vandalism.
After the hearing, James Lambert Otis, 52, of Los Angeles told reporters, "Upon reflection after my arrest, I had said I was proud and felt very good about destroying Mr. Trump's star. 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 said.
He told reporters he feels "terrible" about the president-elect's actions toward Muslims, Mexican-Americans, women and the disabled -- and is "very angry still at him."
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Sergio C. Tapia II ordered Otis -- who is free on a $20,000 bond -- to return to the downtown courthouse Dec. 5, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require him to stand trial.
He could face up to three years in jail if convicted, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
About 5:45 a.m. Oct. 26 while dressed in construction-worker garb, Otis used a sledgehammer and pick ax to hack away Trump's name and the logo indicating the star had been awarded in the category of television -- in part for Trump's work on "The Apprentice."
Otis previously said 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. But he 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 after Trump's star was damaged. "It would have taken an hour."
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.
Trump's star has since been repaired at a cost of "a few thousand dollars," according to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. The replaced star has remained covered and surrounded by barricades while the concrete settles, and to protect it from further damage.
Otis said he had 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."
Trump -- now the president-elect -- has denied accusations of mistreating women. His Walk of Fame star has been targeted previously, with vandals painting on it earlier this year, and a street artist erecting a small wall around it this summer to mock Trump's pledge to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.