Days after Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was vandalized, a group of his supporters rallied there for the second consecutive day Sunday as the Republican presidential nominee now appears to be neck-and-neck with former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
The number of Trump supporters, who held signs such as “Build that Wall” and “Come Out for Trump” while chanting “Vote Trump,” grew to about 20 people by 3:30 p.m. Fans honked their horns loudly in support, while some critics flipped rally participants off, cursed at them or engaged in verbal sparring as they drove or walked by.
In one instance, a passerby and then another got up in the face of a man who was guarding Trump’s star and began shouting profanities at him in a threatening manner, forcing him to take several steps backward.
“This election to me is the life or death of our country, especially doing rallies and seeing how violent people become,” Encino resident Randi Berger, who founded the San Fernando Valley for Trump Celebration Group that organized the rally, said. “There’s no respect for anything today. It’s really sad how our country has become. The lack of respect for the police, law.”
With a little more than a week to go before Election Day, a Washington Post-ABC poll released Sunday found that Trump was just 1 percentage point behind Hillary Clinton. It also found that a minority of all likely voters said they were less likely to support the Democratic presidential nominee after the FBI’s announcement Friday that it is reviewing more emails in connection with its probe of Clinton’s handling of classified information while at the State Department.
Berger, a longtime Republican who was hawking Trump hats, T-shirts and head fans, helped recreate the star on paper — which was replaced after it was vandalized but covered up on Sunday. Berger’s star read “Mr. President Donald J. Trump” and was used as a sign at Sunday’s rally.
“It’s to say ‘no matter how hard you are going to try to destroy us, we’re going to win,’ ” Berger, who works with pets, said.
James Lambert Otis, 53, was taken into custody on Thursday after he allegedly took a pick-axe and a sledgehammer to the star early Wednesday morning. Otis said he did so in order to “auction it on Election Day and raise as much money as I can for them women who have been exploited by Mr. Trump.”
About a dozen women have come forward in recent weeks alleging that Trump engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with them, such as kissing them on the lips and groping them. Many at the rally dismissed those allegations as politically motivated — though some did call the vulgar language he used about women that was recorded on a hot microphone in 2005 “disgusting.”
“They’re coming out 10, 15, 20 years later — all of a sudden three weeks to the election,” said Deborah Strong, an X-ray tech who lives in Camarillo and a Harley Davidson enthusiast. “I think (Democrats) paid these women to come out and do that.”
Elsa Quintanilla, a Salvadoran immigrant who lives in West Hills and held up a sign that read “Equal Justice for All,” said she has faith that Trump will do more to rev up the economy and help provide jobs for her struggling family.
And she pointed to FBI Director James Comey’s announcement last week as evidence that Hillary Clinton could well be charged with a crime.
“I don’t think the FBI would open the case that was closed if they don’t intend to prosecute her,” Quintanilla, a mother who works in home health care, said. “I’d rather have a big mouth and not a crooked politician.”
But several others who found themselves at the bustling tourist destination known for its costumed characters and performers disagreed Sunday. James Campbell, a University of New Mexico student who has already voted for Hillary Clinton, said he and some friends took a “little protest picture” at the site of Trump’s star that involved their middle fingers. After a Trump supporter confronted them, Campbell said they exchanged some words about Trump being a “misogynist” and “racist,” which Trump has denied.
“(Hillary) knows what she’s doing,” Campbell said. “She’s probably the most experienced person to run for president in the history of the United States.”
As for the scandals that have been attached to the former secretary of state, they have “been disproven” and “nothing sticks because they’re not true,” he said. Campbell, who studies political science, also argued that Comey made a “quite a mistake” by announcing his intent to reopen the investigation into her private email server last week.
While Comey likely did it so as not to be seen as hiding anything, Campbell said, “this is something that most prosecutors keep secret, that most members of the law enforcement community keep secret instead of putting that out to the public and for speculation to begin occurring.”