By Matt Lamb, Washington Examiner
The justice system had a chance to “draw a line in the sand” against vandalism of Christian property but botched the opportunity when it gave misdemeanors to five activists who toppled a statue of St. Junipero Serra , a local Catholic activist told the Washington Examiner.
Faye Bourret is a parishioner at St. Raphael Catholic Church, the same Marin County parish where vandals destroyed a statue in 2020 of the priest and saint who evangelized California .
She organized a group on Tuesday of over 30 people, Catholics and Protestants, who recently protested the decision by District Attorney Lori Frugoli to require community service and a written apology instead of jail time for the criminals. This rally was held at the parish, but Bourret said the next step will be to protest outside of the district attorney’s office.
Frugoli praised her own office for resolving the case using an “innovative restorative justice solution.”
“While this issue has raised emotions because of the sensitivities around religion, community boundaries, and historic inequities, the fact is that a resolution through accountability has been reached through restorative justice, and that is a victory for this community,” she stated.
The press release also called the Catholic saint “controversial.”
The comments about “historic inequities” and the saint being “controversial” seemed like a way to “justify” the lax penalties, Bourret told the Washington Examiner.
“The fact was that this was on private property, it was on church property, there was an opportunity to draw a line in the sand” and “send a very strong message,” Bourret said.
Yet the punishment only includes community service, a requirement to “participate in a community forum to be held in the coming months with a credible historian who will give stakeholders a chance to have a meaningful dialogue about the issue,” and that the vandals “stay off the church property,” according to the prosecutor’s office.
While the “innovative restorative justice solution” involved some parish members, Bourret said the voices of parishioners who wanted a stronger punishment were unheard.
She said she attended all of the hearings in the past 32 months related to this case and never saw a fellow parishioner in the Zoom meetings, which occurred every six weeks or so.
“I do think the DA’s office [was] having conversations with some parishioners. I don’t think they were having very many conversations with my point of view, which is, ‘No, it is not a good idea,’” she said. She also said she delivered a petition with around 100 signatures from both Catholics and other religious believers to the district attorney’s office early on in the process.
She noted that these were not children who made a dumb decision but rather adults who consciously chose to commit the violence.
The charged people were “Ines Shiam Gardilcic, 40; Victoria Eva Montanopena, 29; Melissa Aguilar, 36; Mayorgi Nadeska Delgadillo, 36; and Moira Cribben Van de Walker, 25,” the prosecutor’s office said.
Bourret also shared with the Washington Examiner a social media post by the group calling on people to come and topple the statue. “Serra must fall: A call for the removal of the statue,” a post from the group United Marin Rising stated on Oct. 8, 2020. “Do we keep celebrating colonizers and oppressors,” the Facebook post read. It was still accessible as of June 2.
The news release from the district attorney called it a “planned protest.”
The violence, as Bourret said and the district attorney’s office noted, was “very deliberate.”
The vandals should have been deliberately sent to prison for their “protest.”