Catholic leaders gathered for a peaceful demonstration in San Rafael Tuesday with a message of forgiveness to protesters who tore down the statue of Father Junipero Serra Monday.
Serra is known for his role as the architect of California’s Mission System but some in the Native American community feel the missions led to the oppression, and even murder, of indigineous people.
“It’s hard to be a Miwok and drive by that statue every day,” said protester Lucina Vidauri who helped organize Monday’s protest in front of the church.
The protest began peacefully and she says the intention was to simply hold a rally on Indigenous Peoples Day and begin a dialogue with the church regarding the removal of the statue.
But other protestors took matters into their own hands.
San Rafael police worked with church officials beforehand and agreed not to interact with the protesters to avoid escalating the situation.
They eventually cited the six people responsible for removing the statue.
Even without his statue, it’s clear the discussion regarding Junipero Serra’s legacy will continue.
“It doesn’t mean he’s perfect, but they just come here and tear it down,” said parishioner Joe.
It’s up to the DA now to decide whether to file criminal charges against the six people cited for felony vandalism, after the statue came down.