‘Compared To Hitler’: St Junípero Serra Statue To Be Removed From Ventura

Mary Margaret Olohan |Social Issues Reporter

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  • The statue of a Roman Catholic saint, Junípero Serra, will be removed over accusations that statues of the missionary reflect oppression of indigenous peoples, California officials announced Thursday. 
  • The statue currently stands with his back to the Ventura City Hall facing out out over Pacific Ocean.
  • “We’re constantly fighting to correct our history, and if there was ever a time to speak up, the time was now,” said Chief Julie Tumamait Stenslie. 

The statue of a Roman Catholic saint, Junípero Serra, will be removed from public display over accusations that statues of the missionary reflect oppression of indigenous peoples, according to city officials.

The mayor of Ventura, California, representatives from the Barbareño/Venureño Band of Mission Indians and a pastor of the Mission San Buenaventura issued a joint statement agreeing to take down a bronzed, nine-foot statue of Serra and have it “moved to a more appropriate non-public location” on Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The statue currently stands with his back to the Ventura City Hall and facing the Pacific Ocean.

“I always knew that this moment, despite all the issues our people have faced, would happen,” Chief Julie Tumamait Stenslie of the Barbareño/Venureño Band told the LA Times. “We’re constantly fighting to correct our history, and if there was ever a time to speak up, the time was now.”

The move comes as statues of Confederate figures are being removed across the country following the protests against police brutality and the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes, video of the incident showed. Derek Chauvin, the officer, has been fired and arrested on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges.

Serra, a Franciscan monk credited for spreading Catholicism in the western United States, founded nine of the 21 missions along the coast of California beginning in 1769 and was canonized a saint by Pope Francis in 2015. He was the first Catholic saint to be canonized on U.S. soil.

Serra “sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it,” the pope said during the Washington, D.C. canonization service.

Catholics have praised Serra for his dedication to evangelizing the indigenous peoples of California and for pushing back against the treatment Spanish soldiers showed to the native people, but critics accused him of pushing native tribes to abandon their cultures by converting to Catholicism. Some criticized Serra for being “complicit” in “the brutal and dehumanizing conquest of native tribes in California.”

Serra has also been accused of introducing foreign diseases to indigenous tribes and forcing tribes to build the missions, according to the LA Times.

“Serra is not the historical hero people thought when this landmark statue to him was erected, one of many throughout California, as a historical emblem, he is toxic and should be removed,” the petition said. “As a community we cannot and will not support the dehumanization of the Native American community any longer. We are calling for restorative justice and are petitioning for his statue to be removed immediately.”

“I just don’t believe many people understand what it means to our people to pass by City Hall and see that statue and the pain it’s caused and causes to do this day,” Stenslie told the LA Times. “We in Ventura are a much more diverse community and deserve to be represented by someone else.”

Twenty-three-year-old Camarillo resident Ben Leaños, who is one of the organizers of a protest scheduled to occur near the statue on Saturday, told the publication that the protest was originally intended to pressure city officials to remove the statue. The protest will still occur, he said, with a new purpose of pushing the officials to move quickly and remove the statue.

“Just because we don’t have Confederate generals or slavery in California like in other parts of the country doesn’t mean we don’t have monuments to white supremacy and genocide,” Leaños said. “We’re going to be out there on Saturday to say thank you, but also to remind the city government that we’re going to be watching them.”

The Vatican did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Morning vehicles lights streaking past Junipero Serra Statue overlooking downtown Ventura, California on August 17, 2018

 

Follow Mary Margaret on Twitter.


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6 Responses to ‘Compared To Hitler’: St Junípero Serra Statue To Be Removed From Ventura

  1. Sylvia I Rodriguez July 8, 2020 at 4:17 pm

    History is what it is. U gotta think about this. That statue, any statue is up there for a reason. Maybe a reminder of what not to do or how to be n/or vise versa. If anything, whenever our history began, there r plenty of other ppl prior this father, who’ve committed greater sins. Hes been there for how many years n NOW U WANNA TEAR HIS STATUE DOWN? Really? Like its been told to u alls, get over urselves. The fact remains, our history wont erase them, their acts good, bad or indifferent just bcuz a “statue of” is no longer there. This father will always be a part of our local history, he’ll pop up in a book ur just picked up even. Leave the dude alone.

    Reply
  2. John Goya June 21, 2020 at 7:22 pm

    Robert

    You are totally off your rocker. Europeans made another of mistakes, yes they are human. But overall their travels open a world up to all. The natives of this nation would kill 1000 s of young women to get rain and favors from the Gods! The natives. I Africa people that were tall , killers Blacks that were short ! People from one tribe would kill and kill the other tribe. Today in Lybia have slave markets were black men are sold. Humans all around the world for thousands of years have been evil and good. It was the European people that began to stop slavery, it’s not been great record. But they have made great strides. So get over yourself

    Reply
  3. Dlnna June 21, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    The Cbief says she wants to CORRECT history
    This is impossible
    It happened and thus it is history.
    If you want all history told then mention everything. But don’t tear down the statue and thereby erase all the good this man actually accomplished!

    Reply
  4. Tim H June 21, 2020 at 11:15 am

    Couldn’t have said it better Lisa . I loved the use of the words butt hole. Excellent

    Reply
  5. Robert June 20, 2020 at 11:52 am

    I disagree. First statues, then buildings, then the land. In 100 years, look around and see who won the war. Another Civil War, but this time it will be over the American Flag. While you’re at it give the Hawaiian Islands back to the Hawaiians. European Imperialism. Read your history books and educate yourselves before it’s too late.

    Reply
  6. Lisa June 19, 2020 at 10:50 pm

    You cannot erase history by stripping the statues down. They just dont want us to remember so we can commit the same mistakes! I for one will never forget! Leave the historical statues in place or place the safely into museums. While their at it, pull your head out of your butt holes and wake the hell up!

    Reply

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