What to Know
- President Donald Trump's star is once again in pieces after it was smashed overnight near Hollywood and Highland by a man with a pickax
- The destroyed star, presented for his 'Apprentice' role in 2007, became a target for vandals during then-candidate Trump's campaign in 2016
- Walk of Fame star recipients are selected by a committee that considers hundreds of applications each year, then purchased
The vandalism suspect who smashed President Donald Trump's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to pieces with a pickax pleaded not guilty Wednesday and detailed why he felt compelled to destroy the sidewalk monument.
Austin Clay, 24, of Glendale was charged with a felony count of vandalism in connection with the July 25 case. Officers were called around 3:30 a.m. to the star's location on Hollywood Boulevard near Highland Avenue, where they found a small pile of rubble in place of the star that Trump received in January 2007 for his role in the NBC show "The Apprentice."
Outside of court Wednesday, Clay said he felt compelled to smash the star because of Trump's rhetoric.
"When I look at the lineage of presidents, I don't think anything about his rhetoric is presidential," Clay said. "There was urgency behind my actions. I feel like I've been called to do what I did."
He was asked if he'd do it again.
"I think that somebody else is going to do it," Clay said. "I did my job, so to speak."
Clay reported the crime and turned himself in to Beverly Hills police after leaving the pickax at the scene, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. His attorneys explained Wednesday that Clay doesn't dispute smashing the star.
"There's been no dispute about the act," said attorney David Pourshalimi. "We dispute whether or not his actions were criminal."
Local, state and national politics
As daylight arrived on the morning of the pickax destruction, Walk of Fame visitors stopped to take pictures of the smashed star and have a closer look. Some visitors kept pieces as souvenirs.
The Walk of Fame is administered by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which issued a statement.
"The Hollywood Walk of Fame is an institution celebrating the positive contributions of the inductees," said Leron Gubler, President-CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. "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."
This is at least the second time Trump's star has been vandalized in the last two years.
In October 2016, a man dressed as a construction worker smashed the star with a pickax and sledgehammer. James Otis pleaded no contest to felony vandalism in February 2017 and was sentenced to three years probation, 20 days of community service and agreed to pay $4,400 for the damage.
Also in 2016, the star was defaced by spray paint and even surrounded by an artist's 6-inch high wall, a miniature representation of then-candidate Trump's border wall proposal.