Trump's Walk of Fame star: The West Hollywood City Council wants it permanently removed
Since before the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump's Hollywood Walk of Fame star has seen just about everything. It was smashed into pieces - twice. It was vandalized with a swastika, enclosed with a miniature border wall, defaced with profanity and graced with the presence of a gold-painted toilet telling passersby to "TAKE A TRUMP."
Trump supporters have fought back, defending the star. Late last month, hours after a man destroyed the star with a pickax, a fierce brawl ensued, leaving one person kicked in the head and another bleeding from the face.
The site has become a symbol not only of the nation's celebrity president but of the polarization surrounding him. And a nearby city council has had enough of it.
On Monday night, the West Hollywood City Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to ask for the removal of Trump's star, due to the president's "disturbing treatment of women and other actions that do not meet the shared values of the City of West Hollywood, the region, state, and country." It cited President Donald Trump's lewd comments on the Access Hollywood tape, his policy of separating families at the border, and his denial of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Since the city of West Hollywood does not have any control over the Walk of Fame, the council's resolution simply urges the City Council of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to remove the star.
"These are the sort of icons and images that define us as Americans," West Hollywood Mayor John Duran told The Washington Post late Monday night. "To think that we would pay tribute to someone who's causing such a horrible disaster to our country's values."
Trump received his star on the Walk of Fame in 2007 for his work as the producer of the Miss Universe Pageant. His is one of more than 2,500 coral terrazzo and brass stars on the two-mile stretch of the popular Hollywood tourist attraction. Each year a committee sifts through about 200 nominations to select 20 to 24 new stars to add to the Walk of Fame.
The city council of West Hollywood, which neighbors Los Angeles, has "never felt compelled to intervene" in decisions regarding the Walk of Fame, Duran said. The council didn't make such calls for star removal when scores of powerful men in Hollywood were accused of misconduct amid the #MeToo movement. It did not pass a similar resolution to eliminate the star of Bill Cosby after the disgraced comedian was convicted of sexual assault.
"They've had their day in court, they've had their trial," Duran said of men like Cosby. But this time is different, Duran said, because Trump is the "leader of the free world." "There's a sense of lawlessness that is occurring that is largely being orchestrated by the president." The council passed the resolution not because Trump is a conservative or Republican, Duran said, but because he has created a "constitutional crisis."
In light of the revelations of the #MeToo movement, the city's resolution also asks that the officials overseeing the Walk of Fame consider revisiting the qualifications for earning a star. West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tempore John D'Amico, who introduced the proposal, thinks the Walk of Fame "needs to do a deep dive into their history" and consider what other stars should be removed, he said in an interview with The Post.
Duran acknowledges that the resolution is, at this point, purely symbolic. Leron Gubler, the president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which oversees the Walk of Fame, said in a statement to CNN that it will refer the issue to the group's Executive Committee for consideration at its next meeting. "As of now, there are no plans to remove any stars from the Hollywood Walk of Fame," Gubler said.
Despite previous demands to remove Cosby and Trump's stars, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has refused to do so.
"The answer is no," Gubler said in 2015 in response to inquiries about the Cosby and Trump stars. "The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a registered historic landmark. Once a star has been added to the Walk, it is considered a part of the historic fabric of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Because of this, we have never removed a star from the Walk."
So the council's resolution is not likely to do much in the immediate future. Still, the move drew a rowdy crowd of an estimated 100 people to city hall Monday night, where residents were encouraged to weigh in on the debate.
Emotions ran high. Insults were shouted across the room. At one point, Duran had to remind those in the audience to have a civilized debate, even though today's politics may "seem uncivilized."
Among those who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting was a 24-year-old named Austin Mikel Clay, who introduced himself by saying, "You may know me as the man who actually destroyed Donald Trump's star."
Clay turned himself into police after he swung a pickax at Trump's star at 3 a.m. late last month. He is now facing a felony charge of vandalism and is expected to be arraigned next week.
Wearing a black blazer and white button-down shirt, Clay said he felt Trump's star was a threat to public safety. "With all the violence that's erupting over the star in its current condition, I could see someone getting seriously hurt."
He called Trump "unethical" and "fraudulent," and criticized him for "putting children in cages," and removing them from their parents at the border."He is racist. He's a bigot," Clay said.
"I would like to preserve the integrity of the Walk of Fame as an honorable landmark for the American landscape," Clay said.
A number of Trump supporters at the meeting condemned the resolution. "He earned it," said one woman, who described herself as a Latina supporter of the president. "It needs to be respected. Be proud of that star."
"You want to remove stars? Start with all the pedophilia in Hollywood," she added.
A transgender man, James Wen, stepped up to the microphone to decry the president's move to ban transgender members of the military. "Stars in the military are awarded to great leaders, great generals," Wen said. "This is our commander in chief and when a commander in chief, when a general is not becoming of their position, they are either asked to resign or a star is removed. It is time to have the star removed."
As Wen walked back to his seat, Duran said he heard someone in the audience yell out to Wen, "You're actually a woman. Start acting like a girl."
In a video of the meeting, Duran is seen pounding a gavel on the table in front of him.
"Excuse me. We do not speak to members of the transgender community with such horrible remarks," he said, prompting a round of applause from the audience.
Later in the meeting, Duran said that some of the comments made by Trump supporters in the audience "are a reflection of that anger and angst and divisiveness" in the country right now.
Their behavior "pretty much solidified that what we're doing is right," Duran said.
This article was written by Samantha Schmidt, a reporter for The Washington Post.