LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Dozens of protesters gathered in the community of Mission Hills on Saturday to speak out against statues of Father Junipero Serra.

Serra brought Catholic missions to California 251 years ago and founded nine of the 21 current missions in the state.

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He was canonized by Pope Francis in 2015 and has remained a controversial figure for what activists say was his treatment of Native Americans, including forcing them to convert to Catholicism and destroying their tribes and culture.

The protest was held at the Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana, a week after a statue of Serra was toppled in downtown Los Angeles near Olvera Street.

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The district community of the Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians said in a statement that they support efforts to permanently remove Serra statues through cooperating with local government and communities.

“The Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians supports the removal of statues glorifying individuals who brought violence and oppressive systems, and attempted to extinguish our lifeways throughout our traditional homelands of San Fernando, Simi, Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys through policy change and advocacy,” the tribal organization said.

Serra’s canonization in Washington, D.C. on September 2015 was the first canonization ever on U.S. soil.

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