Walk of Fame Trump Star Smasher Plans More Protests
Despite facing three years in prison, James Lambert Otis plans to continue peaceful anti-Trump actions, including a Hollywood Boulevard appearance Nov. 4.
James Lambert Otis will appear again on Hollywood Boulevard today at 1:00 p.m. PT to advocate for the immediate removal of Donald Trump's newly restored star on the Walk of Fame.
Earlier this week, in the wake of his arrest for smashing Trump's star on Oct. 26, Otis spent that morning at one of Trump's golf courses, even though it was closed and crawling with security guards. This came on the heels of a similar scouting mission at a Halloween party at the Trump Doral in Miami. “I found five women who had been sexually abused,” Otis tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We were going to take the women right in front of the Trump hotel and share their stories about sexual abuse and demand Trump apologize for his comments. It isn’t OK to be sexually abusive.”
In the end, two of the women dropped out and press interest was subdued. But the setback hasn’t dampened Otis’ enthusiasm for combating sexism and other intolerance he feels the GOP candidate personifies. “For Trump it’s a way of life. He molests them and then he sues them. It makes me nuts. It’s a part of why I did that [the Walk of Fame]. I felt so powerless that this man was saying things about people I love and getting away with it. I felt I had to do something, so I did. I’m proud of what I did and I’d do it again.”
The idea came to Otis on a Silent Sunday, part of a ritual he practiced for nine years in which he didn’t speak on Sunday. He figured he'd have to pay for the damaged star, but wrongly assumed he would get to keep it and auction it off privately, with the proceeds going to Trump’s victims.
He spent six weeks planning the deed, including two nights scouting Hollywood Boulevard among homeless guys and a street performer painted gold. Then, at 5:45 a.m. on Oct. 26, he set up cones, donned a construction worker's helmet and vest, and let loose on Trump’s star with a pickax, finishing before police arrived. "For me [the star is] a meaningful symbol for people who do important, valuable historical work," he says. "I went after this symbol cause I don't think he deserves that. I don't think he ever has."
Otis and attorney Mieke ter Poorten arranged for him to turn himself in, and the next day Otis was arrested in his West Hollywood home. Currently out on $20,000 bail, according to jail records he is to appear again Nov. 18 and face felony charges that could land him three years in prison. “I chopped a quarter inch of cement and caused an international uproar. So I think it’s just a couple of hundred dollars damage, $2,500. If they need to do that, I understand,” he explains.
The 52-year-old activist holds interests in real estate and art, including the world’s largest collection of original drawings by Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. His great-grandfather launched the Otis Elevator Company and he is ex-husband to former Columbia Pictures production chief Lisa Henson; he's also related to cover girl Carre Otis (Mickey Rourke’s ex) and the Bush family.
The way Otis sees it, smashing Trump’s star was not a crime, but rather a non-violent protest, a defense that may not hold up in court. A longtime practitioner of peaceful protest based on Gandhi’s principle of satyagraha (peaceful resistance), Otis made headlines in 2009 when he put up for auction items belonging to Gandhi, including a pair of glasses, a 1910 Zenith pocket watch, a brass bowl and a plate that sold for $1.8 million. When politicians and news outlets throughout the subcontinent protested, he tried to stop the auction. In the end, he contributed his roughly $1 million from the sale to groups like the International Nonviolent Peace Force and Fellowship of Reconciliation.
If he doesn’t go to jail, he just might buy Bank of New York Mellon and make Michelle Obama its president. It’s a dream project he’s been working on for years, attempting to raise the roughly $20 to $30 billion he figures he will need from his well-heeled friends. After all, his grandmother on his mother’s side was Rachel Lambert, married to Paul Mellon, cousin to the bank’s founder. Otis might still buy it, even if he does go to jail.
“I’m willing to go to jail. I have to honor what I did,” he says, explaining that he’s been to jail about a dozen times before. “Of course, Trump has never done that. He makes mistakes, doesn’t honor them and no consequences. I did the exact opposite. I made the mistake and I’m paying for it. And that’s my thing.”