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St. Junípero Serra statue destroyed at California state capitol

One man burned the face of the Serra statue with an ignited spray from an aerosol can, before it was pulled from its base using tow straps. After the statue fell, members of the crowd struck the statue with a sledgehammer and other objects, dancing and jumping upon it.

The statue of St. Junipero Serra outside the California State Capitol. (Credit: Nathan Hughes Hamilton/flickr)

.-  On the evening of Independence Day, a crowd in Sacramento tore down a statue of St. Junipero Serra, set fire to it, and beat it with sledgehammers.

The statue, on the grounds of California’s state capitol, was the third figure of the missionary saint to be torn down by crowds in California in recent weeks. Sacramento’s bishop responded by saying that Serra worked to promote the dignity of indigenous people.

A large crowd gathered around the statue in Capitol Park at around 9 p.m. on July 4, according to media reports.

One man burned the face of the Serra statue with an ignited spray from an aerosol can, before it was pulled from its base using tow straps. After the statue fell, members of the crowd struck the statue with a sledgehammer and other objects, dancing and jumping upon it.

The crowd chanted “Rise up, my people, rise up,” while destroying the statue.

They dispersed when California Highway Patrol officers intervened, the Sacramento Bee reported.

In a July 5 statement, Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento said that while “the group’s actions may have been meant to draw attention to the sorrowful, angry memories over California’s past,” their “act of vandalism does little to build the future.”

“There is no question that California’s indigenous people endured great suffering during the colonial period and then later faced the horror of government-sanctioned genocide under the nascent State of California. This legacy is heartbreaking. Yet, it is also true that while Fr. Serra worked under this colonial system, he denounced its evils and worked to protect the dignity of native peoples,” Soto said.

“Understanding the efforts of Fr. Serra to bring light into the bitter, bleak darkness of colonial ambition is the difficult task of history. So is the present arduous work to chart the future with hope. The strenuous labor of overcoming the plague of racism should not be toppled by nocturnal looting. Dialogue should not abdicate to vandalism. Nor should these unnerving episodes distract us from the duties of justice and charity upon which a better California can be built.”

“All monuments are imperfect as are our efforts to live up to America’s founding ideals. The primary task is to build up our community, not tear it down,” the bishop added.

The Sacramento Bee reported that some protestors on the Capitol grounds carried signs saying “decolonize the streets,” and that advocates of the Black Lives Matter movement and American Indian Movement referred amid their protests to Independence Day as the “Farce of July.”

The California Highway Patrol is reportedly investigating the statue’s toppling.

The statue was installed on the state capitol grounds in 1965. At the base of the statue is a map of the 21 missions founded by Franciscan missionaries to California in the eighteenth century.

Serra, a Franciscan priest, has become a target of California vandals amid Black Lives Matter protests in recent weeks, even while biographers say the missionary was an advocate for the rights of native people.

A statue of Serra was torn down by demonstrators in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on June 19, and one was torn down in Los Angeles on the same day. Other California cities have moved Serra statues to avoid their toppling, or plan to do so.

During the eighteenth century, the saint founded nine Catholic missions in the area that would later become California.

Serra helped to convert thousands of native Californians to Christianity and taught them new agricultural technologies.

Critics have lambasted Serra as a symbol of European colonialism and said the missions engaged in the forced labor of Native Americans, sometimes claiming Serra himself was abusive.

But Serra’s defenders say the priest a was actually an advocate for native people and a champion of human rights. They note that he often found himself at odds with Spanish authorities over treatment of native people, and the outpouring of grief from native communities at his death.

On June 27, San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone held a prayer service at the base of San Francisco’s toppled Serra statue.

“Evil has made itself present here. So we have gathered together to pray for God, to ask the saints…for their intercession, above all our Blessed Mother, in an act of reparation, asking God’s mercy on us and on the whole city, that we might turn our hearts back towards him,” Cordileone said in a June 27 video.

“The presence of so many wonderful people here was of great comfort for me,” the archbishop said. “I feel such a great wound in my soul when I see these horrendous acts of blasphemy disparaging the memory of Serra who was such a great hero, such a great defender of the indigenous people of this land.”

Cordileone said the San Francisco statue was “blasphemously torn down”

“An act of sacrilege occurred here. That is an act of the Evil One,” he said in the video.

“We came together to say the prayer of the rosary, and also the prayer of exorcism, the St. Michael Prayer, because evil is here, this is an activity of the evil one, who wants to bring down the Church, who wants to bring down all Christian believers,” he said.

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez wrote June 29 that “The real St. Junípero fought a colonial system where natives were regarded as ‘barbarians’ and ‘savages,’ whose only value was to serve the appetites of the white man. For St. Junípero, this colonial ideology was a blasphemy against the God who has ‘created (all men and women) and redeemed them with the most precious blood of his Son.’”

“He lived and worked alongside native peoples and spent his whole career defending their humanity and protesting crimes and indignities committed against them,” he said. “Among the injustices he struggled against, we find heartbreaking passages in his letters where he decries the daily sexual abuse of indigenous women by colonial soldiers.”

For his part, Soto wrote July 5 that Serra’s “holiness as a missionary should not be measured by his own failures to stop the exploitation or even his own personal faults.  Holiness, in the end, is more a result of God’s grace and our willingness to cooperate with His mercy.”

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  1. It sounds like this didn’t happen in an instant. Where were the police while it was happening?
    Can not even the state capitol be protected from such terrorism?
    Why is this not being reported/investigated as an anti-Catholic/anti-white hate crime?
    When will the statue be replaced? Surely it must be if this behavior is not to be encouraged.

  2. Bishop Soto’s statement makes the weakest objection possible.
    You will get what you deserve, Bishop. They are coming for your church next. Then ANTIFA /BLM will come for you.
    Bet on it.

  3. The Evil One and the darkness and insanity he has infested the minds of 26% of our population with along with his “Shock” troops of Academia,MSM,and Hollywood is front and center for all Americans to see.The decision this November 3rd 2020 by all Americans will have far reaching effects on Christens.

  4. We need to get a handle on what is called Critical Race Theory. We keep puzzling ourselves over the aggressive activism, the lack of historical accuracy, the unjust accusations broadly hurled at “the white man”, Europeans etc. Critical Race Theory needs to be examined for its role in what we are seeing. This theory is taught as part of social and race studies at many colleges. It encourages alternative narratives and aggressive activism to challenge the traditional narratives of our nation’s founding, which it views as white supremacy.

  5. The illiteracy and ignorance of the mob is being displayed daily. That is what we are learning. It is too much trouble to read and learn the truth of another’s life. I am proud of Fr. Serra and his efforts to help the natives be prepared for the Europeans coming. No tantrums can change history or his honest legacy. I might have thought they had a point until they revealed themselves. “The crowd dispersed when the Hwy patrol came” Where were they when needed? The authority’s acceptance of absolute ignorance is incredible. How can we move forward without intelligence or discipline.? Fantasy

  6. Nothing happens in the park that surrounds the Capitol without the California Highway Patrol (CHP) knowing because the place is loaded with cameras and is actively patrolled. It’s a very safe low crime area. The CHP showed up late either due to cowardice or deliberately by intent.

  7. It’s the violent-loving war of self-avowed money-grubbing, peer-mad, family-hating queer Marxists, against Catholic people, whom they live to hate and intend to destroy, and that is a stone cold fact.

    These thugs are money grubbing criminal predators.

    Bank of America and Big Tech have just funded them BILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

    The money-grubbers in Wall Strret and Hollywood and Harvard Yard are funding and fomenting the violence of monetized Queer Fury.

  8. I grew up in the shadow of the San Gabriel Mission in L.A. and all my life we were taught in school that it was the cruelty of forced indigenous labor that built the Mission as exhibited by the skeletons of native Americans found in some of the walled enclosure during City construction of utilities in the 1950’s. So it was a shock when a large earthquake damaged the outer walls of the church and part of the enclosure in the 1980’s and…proved once again that history is merely a type of propaganda of those who shout the loudest. As it turned out, as with the previous damage to the outer wall, that deceased native Americans were found buried in the walls but with advanced DNA and forensic science it was determined they were lovingly placed there along side the remains of Spaniard frontiers people and clergy. Modern archaeology determined as it turns out that the construction of the Mission and walls to defend against roaming bandits was a labor of love and it was an honor for its builders to be buried within its walls. So let the unbelievers shout out “We want Barabbas” and let the believers continue to carry the cross of Jesus for love of the unbelievers, (Matt. 11:28-30).

    • gka,
      Thank you for sharing that bit of history. That’s very interesting. I really enjoy reading about history and I’ve found it tends to be written mostly by whatever culture has replaced the previous one. The Spanish get a bad rap from Anglo texts and one that’s not always deserved.

    • gka, Thank you for your first-hand comment. I taught at San Gabriel High School for many years, just across the street from the Mission I once took an AFS student from Denmark there. I think I learned almost as much as she did! Friends of mine are parishioners there who also attended Mission High School. I couldn’t agree more with mrscracker.

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