James Lambert Otis is the California activist who admitted to smashing President Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame while dressed as the Incredible Hulk. He pulled off the stunt early in the morning on October 2, hours after the president announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
This is the second time Otis has targeted Trump’s star. He damaged the star with a sledgehammer and a pickaxe in October 2016. Otis has turned himself in and faces a felony charge for the latest stunt.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. James Otis Shared Video of the Stunt On YouTube
Otis was clearly not concerned about getting caught. He shared a video on YouTube that appears to have been shot and edited by a professional videographer. Otis created the YouTube channel on October 2 and wrote in the video description, “Angered at Donald’s disregard for science and the environment, physicist Bruce Banner transforms into the Hulk and destroys a terrazzo and brass monument commemorating the climate denier.”
In the clip, Otis struts up and down the sidewalk in his Hulk costume and lets out loud grunts. He has a cloth facial covering on over his green mask and a T-shirt that reads, “Voting is my superpower.” Otis also waves an American flag as he growls, “Hulk!”
Otis then grabs a pickaxe and starts slamming it down on Trump’s Hollywood star, which has a white sheet above it. Otis also staged an audience for the stunt; a stuffed Kermit the Frog wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt is sitting in a lawn chair watching the action. After Otis smashes the star, the videographer zooms in on it to provide a greater view of the damage left behind.
After damaging the star, Otis continues to put on a show on the sidewalks and waves to witnesses. The video shows the signs that he and his team had placed on the sidewalk. One of the displays reads, “Hollywood & Highland get out the vote. Vote for love, environment, immigrants, change.” The second poster urged passerby to vote early by mail.
Toward the end of the video, the Hulk mask is seen being tossed onto the sidewalk. Otis walks away from the scene as several other people move in to take photos of Trump’s star.
2. Otis Turned Himself In 3 Days Later & Was Released on Bond
Otis admitted to damaging Trump’s Hollywood star and turned him in on October 5. According to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department records, Otis surrendered at the LAPD’s Hollywood Division around 11:30 a.m. He was booked into jail just after 1 p.m. Bond was set at $20,000 and Otis was released just after 7 p.m. The inmate record shows Otis has a court date set for February 1, 2021.
Otis is facing a charge of felony vandalism. In California, vandalism is elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony if the cost of the damage exceeds $400. The Los Angeles Times, citing the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, reported the damage to Trump’s star would cost more than $3,000 to repair.
Otis says he will repay the city for the cost to fix the star, according to the New York Daily News. He told the newspaper that his stunt was meant as a metaphor. “I think his star is fading and that he will not be reelected.” Otis added, “My silly little stunt, no matter how poorly thought out, was my attempt to get people to reconsider this man who lies eight to ten times a day.”
3. Otis Vandalized Trump’s Hollywood Star Days Before the 2016 Election
Otis has targeted Trump’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star before. He admitted to vandalizing the star days before the 2016 election. According to the Los Angeles Times, Otis dressed as a construction worker and used a sledgehammer on the star. He was charged with felony vandalism in that case as well.
Otis was ordered to pay $4,400 in 2016 to fix the star. According to the Hollywood Reporter, a judge ordered Otis be placed on probation for three years and he had to complete 20 days of community service with the Department of Transportation. Otis told the outlet he never regretted his action: “It was more to get attention to the fact Trump is a misogynist and sexually assaulted many women. I am proud because it brought to light the fact the sexual assault is a real dangerous problem in our society and Trump is just making it worse.”
In July 2018, Trump’s star was damaged again. But that time, the destruction was much more severe and Otis was not responsible for it. A man named Austin Mikel Clay admitted that he went at the star with a pickax and was later ordered to pay more than $9,400 to repair it. His lawyer told the New York Times his client had been motivated to action after the Trump administration enforced a policy that separated immigrant children from their parents at the border.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Otis had offered to pay Clay’s $20,000 bail amount but a GoFundMe campaign raised enough money first. Otis also said at the time that he would pay for Clay’s attorney.
4. Otis Was Banned From the Empire State Building After Staging Another Anti-Trump Stunt
Otis was in New York City in mid-September to stage another anti-Trump stunt. Otis created a list of 20,000 lies that he believed Trump has told since becoming president in 2017, along with fact-checking statements from the Washington Post, as he explained to TMZ. Otis printed the statements onto more than 3,000 gold papers. He then dumped the flyers from the top of the Empire State Building.
TMZ shared a video of Otis from the top of the skyscraper as he scattered the papers to the wind. A security guard quickly interrupted him by calling out, “Excuse, you can’t do that. What are you doing?” It’s unclear how Otis responded but the guard then repeated, “No, no, no, you cannot do that.” She was also heard saying, “What is wrong with you?”
Otis was not arrested but he was escorted out of the building. He has also been banned from the Empire State Building for life.
Otis spoke with a TMZ reporter on the ground to explain his motivation for the stunt. He told the outlet, “We have a president that lies every single day. Lying is just, on its very base, unethical and wrong. We teach our children not to lie but we have a president who lies every day and I don’t want another president for four years who can’t even determine when he’s telling the truth and telling a lie.”
5. Otis’ Family Owns a Billion-Dollar Company
The company boasts on its website that it is “the world’s leading company for elevator and escalator manufacturing, installation and service.” One of its most well-known projects was at the Empire State Building. The company constructed the glass elevator that takes visitors to the observatory on the 102nd floor.
According to its website, Otis Elevator claims that its elevators move two billion people per day. The company maintains more than two million units worldwide, employs 69,000 people and reported more than $13 billion in net sales in 2019. According to Forbes, Otis Elevator also held $9.7 billion in assets as of October 6 and reported more than $1.1 billion in profits.