SF Archdiocese seeks prosecution over toppling of Junipero Serra statue

Wayne Freedman Image
ByWayne Freedman KGO logo
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Father Junipero Serra in middle of Bay Area political battle
Protesters marched into and sat outside the office of Marin County District Attorney Lori Frugoli Monday, demanding prosecution of five people arrested for toppling a statue of Fr. Junipero Serra outside a church.

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KGO) -- The fallout continues following the desecration of a statue of Father Junipero Serra outside St. Raphael Church in San Rafael. Descendants of Native Americans say he has their blood on his hands, but less than two weeks from Election Day, it has thrust the issue into the crosshairs of political debate.

Protestors marched into and then sat outside the office of Marin County District Attorney Lori Frugoli on Monday.

They demand prosecution, "to the fullest extent," of five people arrested for pulling down a statue of Father Junipero Serra outside St. Rafael Church.

"We would do the same even if it was a statue of Chairman Mao," said one. "It was private property."

"Law and order must be respected," said Richard Kakayjian. "Otherwise, we have Portland."

Native Americans say Junipero Serra has their blood on his hands for how he treated their ancestors while establishing California's missions. "We wanted to open a dialogue with the church, basically, and it just kind of got out of hand," said Lucina Vidauri, of Miwok ancestry.

She was not arrested, but decries the response. "Since then, my life has been threatened. My family has been threatened."

"It is unfortunate and uncalled for. This is the time we're in, now," said Cesar Lagleva, who attended that same St. Rafael Church as a child. He resents the hijacking of this cultural issue into a political one.

"I realize this is being thrust into the political arena. It is a social issue."

Back in the Marin Civic Center, protestors played loud revolution music through a megaphone while waiting. It echoed through the buildings long halls and even serenaded people casting their votes, but District Attorney Lori Frugoli never came out to meet with the law and order contingent.

VIDEO: SF mayor calls for review of public art after crowds topple 3 historic statues

San Francisco Mayor Breed asked officials to work with the community so that art, including statues, reflect the values of the city after statues of Francis Scott Key, Junipero Serra and Ulysses Grant were torn down in Golden Gate Park.

Instead, she sent a messenger with a statement saying they're waiting for a full investigation before reaching any decision.

On Monday, the Archdiocese of San Francisco told ABC7 News that it does want to prosecute.

Outside the church, Father Serra's statue is gone. Only a mound of concrete remains where the base used to be.

The church held an exorcism to rid the spot of its evil.