SAN FRANCISCO (CBSLA) – Demonstrators tore down a statue of the controversial Catholic saint Junipero Serra Monday evening in the Bay Area city of San Rafael, marking the latest of several Serra statues to be torn down this year across California.
The protesters painted the statue red and then ripped it down outside the Church of Saint Raphael, which is part of the Mission San Rafael Arcangel.
According to CBS San Francisco, the demonstration, dubbed the “Red Paint Rally,” was designed to coincide with Indigenous People’s Day.
Father Serra was canonized by Pope Francis in 2015 — the first canonization on U.S. soil — and has remained a controversial figure for what critics argue was his poor treatment of Native Americans. They say he was an agent of Spanish colonialism who forced them to convert to Catholicism and destroyed their tribes and culture.
His legacy has come under even more scrutiny in the wake of the George Floyd protests and the discussion it has prompted over racial injustice.
In July, the Ventura City Council voted to remove a bronze statue of the Roman Catholic priest which sits outside City Hall, along with a wooden statue of Serra located inside City Hall.
Serra brought Catholic missions to California in the 18th century and founded nine of the 21 current missions in the state.