I dislike Donald Trump every bit as much as anybody does. He has insulted and offended me, he has insulted and offended most of my friends, his candidacy has cost me a number of friendships, and I think he is a buffoon. I could even argue that Trump has not earned the right to a Hollywood star alongside the likes of John Wayne, Louis Armstrong, Tallulah Bankhead and so many more who truly excelled in their fields. That said, I cannot support or condone the act of destruction by a man who, armed with a pickaxe and sledgehammer, maliciously destroyed Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The man, Jamie Otis, an heir to the Otis Elevator Company fortune, arrived just before 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday dressed as a construction worker. While he was hammering and chopping at the star, a witness called police, but by the time they arrived, Otis had left. Otis surrendered to police Thursday morning, his attorney said. Los Angeles police confirmed Otis was arrested and remained in custody late Thursday morning. Otis said his original intent was to pluck the star from the ground and auction it off to raise money for the women who have accused Trump of having sexually assaulted them. In a statement, he said, “I did it, and I’m very happy I did it, and I’m proud that I did it.” He called his actions “an act of civil disobedience” and “freedom of expression.” Otis had planned to give a press conference Thursday explaining his actions but was taken into custody before he could do so.
This is not the first time since the start of Trump’s campaign that his star has been defaced. One day, someone took a service animal to the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame and the dog did its business right on Donald Trump’s star. Since then, the affronts have only escalated: Micro protests, profane gestures, spit wads, human urine — with selfies to mark every gesture. Someone stenciled a mute signal onto the star. Someone spray painted a swastika onto it.
Hollywood Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Leron Gubler said, “When people are unhappy with one of our honorees, we would hope that they would project their anger in more positive ways than to vandalize a California state landmark. Our democracy is based on respect for the law. People can make a difference by voting and not destroying public property.” I fully concur.
Peaceful and meaningful protests are our means of publicly disagreeing in a democracy. Vandalism and destruction of property are not a viable “freedom of expression” and are certainly not protected as freedom of expression under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. We have the power of the written word. And we have the power of our vote. We do not have the right to destroy property that does not belong to us. Children sometimes solve their differences by smashing one another’s toys, making gestures, or even hitting one another. Adults, at least in theory, are more mature than that and find peaceful means to express their displeasure. Anyone who is capable of having a political opinion should surely be mature enough to know better than this.
The end result of this widely-publicized act of vandalism remains to be seen, but it would not surprise me if it gives Trump a bit of a boost among some voters who may actually feel sympathy for him. Nor would it surprise me for somebody to come up with the theory that the Clinton campaign hired Mr. Otis to perform this act. This is just more of what we do not need in this already-divisive election campaign.