Insanity Alert: Brave Catholic youth stand up to mob as Ventura police look on! Has Ventura decided to permit arson, vandalism and destruction of property?

 

 

By Michael Hernandez

Brave Catholic youth heroically stopped a violent mob from tearing down the Father Junipero Serra statue last Saturday (June 20) while the Ventura City Police watched despite a June 11th video posted on the City of Ventura website quoting Ventura Police Chief Darin Schindler committing the department to “protect property and residents from violence and those promoting destruction.”

My question to the Ventura Police Chief: “Will you protect property and residents from violence and those promoting destruction?” My question to Ventura Mayor Matt LaVere: “Will you follow President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order signed June 26th to protect monuments, memorials, statues?  

My questions to both the Ventura Police Chief and Mayor (who is an attorney): “Will you prosecute “to the fullest extent under the law” (up to 10 years imprisonment) anyone who incites violence and illegal activity, which includes the damaging of monuments, memorials, or statues?  Regardless of the merits of having a Serra statue or any other monument on public display, it is a slippery slope to allow mobs to either tear down or intimidate officials into tearing down monuments. Any actions should be the result of a civil debate and due process. Keep in mind that Father Junipero Serra is the main reason that Ventura even exists and has historical value for that and also, more than anyone else, he first brought Christianity to California, like it or not.

While Serra was not perfect, he did far more good than harm. Some of the revisionist history being taught is not really correct. Attempts to forcible erase history are reminiscent of the Taliban, Communist China, the Third Reich, and other abominations of the past.  Some more questions: Has the City of Ventura decided to permit arson, vandalism and destruction of property? Has the City of Ventura decided not to protect residents? 

The mob came down to tear down the nine-foot Catholic bronze statue in the aftermath of a deal* reported on by both the VC Reporter and Los Angeles Times brokered earlier in the week between Ventura City Mayor Matt LaVere (newly elected to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors District 1 position and a graduate of Villanova Preparatory School in Ojai) with Julie Tumamait-Steslie (Chumash leader and elder with the Ventureno/Barbareno band of Mission Indians) and Father Tom Elewaut (San Buenaventura Mission Church priest).

(*Editor’s Note: The Los Angeles Times later reported that Ventura City spokeswoman Heather Sumagaysay said the city is making plans to host community discussions regarding the Serra statue with no timeline for its removal.  See link:

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-06-22/after-protest-junipero-serra-statue-still-standing-in-ventura-for-now.)

Helping promote the event was 23rd-year old Camarillo resident Ben Leanos, a Ventura High graduate who told reporter Andrew J. Campa of the Los Angeles Times (June 18) prior to the event that “the demonstration will focus on making sure the City Council and mayor move swiftly.”  (Editor’s Note:  See link: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/junipero-serra-statue-to-be-moved-away-from-ventura-city-hall/ar-BB15GYM3.)

The June 20th Ventura protest was not a peaceful gathering and could easily have resulted in violence–especially after a man brandished a metal stake at those protecting the statue.

The best account of what happened in the City of Ventura last Saturday was posted by CitizensJournal.us (Ventura County’s online news service providing citizens with a voice since its founding in 2013) as reported by LifeSiteNews (a non-profit nationwide news platform) and by the California Catholic Daily.  

LifeSiteNews  in a June 25th story written by Editor Pete Baklinski (a graduate from Thomas Aquinas College) reported that 200 anti-Serra demonstrators gathered at 1 p.m. near the statue  located in front of Ventura’s City Hall as rally speakers “addressed a diverse and vocal crowed whose slogans included ‘Black Lives Matter’ and who held signs reading ‘He Ain’t No Saint’ and ‘Father Genocide.’

“Some speakers, like local Chumash elder Julie Tumamait-Stenslie, appealed for a peaceful and ordered removal of the statue…others tried to rally the crowd to pull the statue down immediately, with repeating chants of ‘Tear it down! Tear it down!’

“Some of the anti-Serra crowd appeared to have brought tools needed to pull the statue down,” according to 

“But, thanks to the saint’s new bodyguard of dozens of young Catholics including a priest, the city’s Serra statue was not toppled. Prior to the 1 p.m. demonstration, dozens of pro-Serra activists had surrounded the statue to protect it from the vandals.  As the rally began, they stood quietly, some holding signs reading ‘Save Serra,’ some 

“Any attempts to pull down the statue would have meant forcibly removing those who encircled its base, something which the anti-Serra demonstrators had not anticipated.  The counter-protesters—mainly Catholic college students (from Thomas Aquinas College)—were unmoved by taunts, insults, and the cloud of exhaust from a generator that rally organizers had placed close to them.

“The California Catholic Daily reported that at-one-point, anti-Serra protesters made a rush on the statue: As the event wore on with the statue still undamaged, some (anti-Serra) speakers tried to work the crowd into a frenzy. When one asked, ‘Who’s with me?’ for tearing down the statue at that moment and pointed the way, the crowd made a rush. The (Serra) supporters closed ranks around the pedestal and stared down a man brandishing a metal stake at the head of the crowd. He swung it threateningly until one of the (Serra) supporters grabbed hold of it. Meanwhile, another (Serra) supporter ran down the street to a parked squad car and asked the police to come closer. A few cars pulled up with lights and sirens, cooling the fervor of the crowd.

“At Tumamait-Stenslie’s invitation, Father Tom Elewaut, pastor of the historic Mission San Buenaventura, the final mission established by Junipero Serra, addressed the crowd and then joined pro-Serra activists at the base of the statue. As the rally officially ended, Rev. Elewaut blessed those gathered to protect the statue.

“Many anti-Serra demonstrators left but a significant number remained. Ventura police, who had watched from a distance during the rally, moved in closer at one point as a throng of anti-Serra demonstrators heckled and taunted the young people who still remained to protect the 

Meanwhile, statues of Junipero Serra have been pulled down in San Francisco (Golden Gate Park) and in Los Angeles (Olvera Street) without police intervention under a false narrative (lie) that these are “unmonumenting and cleansing of space” ceremonies.

Native Americans and Indigenous communities will not see improvement in their lives through destructive and violent acts especially by antagonizing Christians—

more specifically, the Catholic faith community.

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said in a statement: “What is happening to our society? A renewed national movement to heal memories and correct the injustices of racism and politico brutality in our country has been hijacked by some into a movement of violence, looting and vandalism. The toppling and defacing of statues in Golden Gate Park, including that of St. Junipero Serra have become the latest example. The memorialization of historic figures merits an honest and fair discussion as to how and to whom such honor should be given. But here, there was no such rational discussion; it was mob rule, a troubling phenomenon that seems to be repeating itself through the country.

“Everyone who works for justice and equality joins in the outrage of those who have been and continue to be oppressed. It is especially true that followers of Jesus Christ—Christians—are called to work tirelessly for the dignity of all human beings. This is the cornerstone of our faith. Our dear city bears the name of one of history’s most iconic figures of peace and goodwill: St. Francis of Assisi. For the past 800 years, the various Franciscan orders of brothers, sisters and priests that trace their inspiration back to him have been exemplary of not only serving, but identifying with, the poor and downtrodden and giving them their rightful dignity as children of God. Saint Junipero Serra is no exception.

“Saint Serra made heroic sacrifices to protect the indigenous people of California from their Spanish conquerors, especially the soldiers. Even with his infirmed leg which caused him such pain he walked all the way to Mexico City to obtain special faculties of governance from the Viceroy of Spain in order to discipline the military who were abusing the Indians. And then he walked back to California. And lest there be any doubt, we have a physical reminder to this day: everywhere there is a presidio (soldiers’ barracks) associated with a mission in the chain of 21 missions that he founded, the presidio is miles away from the mission itself and the school.

“Saint Junipero Serra also offered them the best thing he had: the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ, which he and his fellow Franciscan friars did through education, health care, and training in the agrarian 

“All of this is not to deny that historical wrongs have occurred, even by people of good will, and healing of memories and reparation is much needed.  But just as historical wrongs cannot be righted by keeping them hidden, neither can they be righted by rewriting the history. Anger against injustice can be a healthy response when it is that righteous indignation which moves a society forward. But as Christ himself teaches, and St. Francis modeled, love and not rage is the only 

“In calling for the removal of images of Saint Junipero Serra from public display in California, and in tearing down his statue in San Francisco and in Los Angeles, protesters have failed that test,” said the California Catholic Conference of Bishops in a statement released June 22nd in response to the removal of Saint Junipero Serra statues in the 

See comments below by Ventura County residents upon signing a petition posted on Change.org to keep the Father Junipero Serra statue: https://www.change.org/p/ventura-city-hall-keep-the-fra-junipero-serra-statue-at-ventura-county-city-hall?

Laura Berquist: “Father Serra authored (wrote)…in support of the rights of the Native Americans and took great pains to make sure it was heard. More importantly he followed the command of Christ and his own conscience to bring his faith to the new world. He was a man of integrity and we should continue to honor that.”

Anita Davis: “Leave the saints and other religious alone!!!”

Priscilla Gray: “I raised my children in San Buenaventura County and we admire that Father Serra brought Christianity to this land. My friend Alicia Tarin is descended from the first Chumash members of the San Buenaventura mission that Father Serra founded and she also loves and admires him.”

Kari Lemmon: “I think Father Serra is an important positive figure of our state’s history. To cave into a select few radicals who are ignorant of Serra’s historical contributions seems careless.”

Joan Lopez: “The history of the Catholic Church, their Leaders and the wars fought for our freedom of religion will not be erased from our history. Our faith is passed on by scripture and stories from the past. Serra was beautified by Pope John Paul, Sept. 25, 1988, in the Vatican City. Leave our Catholic symbols, art work and traditions alone.”

Edward Madec: “Father Junipero Serra founded Ventura. His statue should remain in Ventura!”

Paul O’Reily: “Please do not remove the statue of Junipero Serra! It is a monument to the history of California and Ventura County. It serves as a testament to the rich and varied soil from which our country sprang, a silent but visible inspiration to new generations to meet challenges without fear and to be willing to sacrifice for the good of humanity. It is important that Californians be allowed to recall and honor our heritage. A statue such as this one pays tribute to the noble intentions, the great personal sacrifices, and the courage of those who went before us.”

Hope Schneir: “Junipero Serra did much more good than harm! He was dearly beloved by the native people and worked hard to protect them from mistreatment from soldiers. Furthermore, we should not erase history!!! If only perfect humans can be remembered, who would be left?”

Donna Steichen: “Father Serra was a champion of the Indian people. He built his missions to teach them the Catholic faith, first, but also to teach them to produce crops that would build a prosperous and successful agricultural economy that would make them independent of Spanish, Russian or Yankee exploiters.”

”We are watching anarchists tearing down statues that pertain to our history,” said Newbury Park Pastor and former Thousand Oaks Mayor Rob McCoy on Fireside Chat 91 livestreamed June 20. “They are tearing down statues of Columbus and Washington and Confederate soldiers and defacing monuments erected in the memory of the Union’s Civil War Black regiment and statues of abolitionists.

“We are watching these marauding hordes go through our cities and destroy these works of antiquity and remembrance. We really do want to have a lifeline to the past so that we can remember these great achievements and see man’s story, God’s story, His story. We can see this story told. We can see the purpose we reside on this earth.

“Each of these statues represent a figure in history. There is not a single figure in history that does not have a sordid past including you and me. When we pass from this earth, we will leave behind the good and the bad. They are fallen and fallible.”

Meanwhile, this writer reached out to Ventura Mayor Matt LaVere on June 25th asking for an interview (after informing him of this Citizens Journal story being written). Mayor LaVere responded by email stating: “No, I have not made any arbitrary decisions regarding the statue. The next steps will have to be decided by the full city council (at a special city council meeting on July 7).” This writer was then referred by the mayor to Ventura Public Information Officer Heather Sumagaysay for additional information. The next Ventura City Council meeting is June 29 at City Hall starting 6 p.m.

City of Ventura are you against Hispanics? Do you want to play this progressive racial identity game that pits one group against another? Is this how you build bridges? Are you against Catholics? Are you for mob rule? Are you against the rule of law? How will this work for Ventura moving forward in 2020? This is insanity!

 


(Editor’s Note: To see the complete Citizens Journal “Fireside Chat” story on Newbury Park Pastor and former Thousand Oaks Mayor Rob McCoy explaining why statues are important go to: https://www.citizensjournal.us/pastor-rob-mccoy-explains-why-statues-are-important-for-american-history/. To sign a petiti`on to keep the Father Junipero Serra statue at the Ventura County City Hall go to: https://www.change.org/p/ventura-city-hall-keep-the-fra-junipero-serra-statue-at-ventura-county-city-hall?

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Citizens Journal.)

 


Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].


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12 Responses to Insanity Alert: Brave Catholic youth stand up to mob as Ventura police look on! Has Ventura decided to permit arson, vandalism and destruction of property?

  1. David Puu July 2, 2020 at 6:33 am

    Some well known and not so well known facts regarding the Missionization of California.

    It led to the importation of slaves from Mexico who were bred with the Chumash.

    From that act, overseen by the Catholic Church arose the Meztizo which were the progeny of Chumash and Mexican slave labor.

    As is common in the conquest of any culture or Nation, displacement of the inhabitants almost always takes place so that the new system can assume control of the land.

    That is a small portion of what Serra presided over in his work here in California.

    Serra’s work is an integral and significant aspect of California History, in both the bad and good things he was involved in the propagation of.

    I hope that this statue continues to stand right where it is. We all ought to be reminded of and connected to the past, and the simple fact that each era involved itself in practices that were commonly suited for that particular time period.

    Culture evolves by being connected to its History.

    And yes, I am of Indigenous descent. Not that ought to matter here. It really does not, other than that my perspective is my own, and relative to what happened to my own kapuna.

    Thank you for publishing this article.

    Reply
    • William Hicks July 3, 2020 at 1:15 pm

      You have a good sense of history. The statue is of public interest. IF the statue is to be removed, let it be by the election process where everyone has a voice.

      Unfortunately, statues are the target of people that never had a personal experience of being a slave or a slave owner.

      I’m afraid that history is being eliminated by people that have allowed their emotions to drive their actions at a high cost both physically and emotionally.

      Reply
  2. William Hicks July 2, 2020 at 4:21 am

    Michael

    I agree with you in that if the Mayor and The Police Chief made a commitment to protect persons and property they should do so. But, I believe the ten year sentence is a Federal, not local, responsibility. If they caught the perpetrators and called in the FBI, for instance, that might be a way to enforce the Federal Law.

    Did I misstate something?

    Reply
  3. C E Voigtsberger July 1, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    Is this some banana republic? Is this some islamic theological dictatorship? Is this some communist dictatorship? Is George Orwell correct? Do we deny history as though it never happened because of some change in political hegemony?

    Junipero Serra is an integral part of California history as much as the forty-niners are, as much as the local indigenous tribes are. To go around tearing down a statue is denying California history, the good along with the bad.

    I’m not a religious person. The last time I was in a church was to help my parents celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in 1986. So the religious implications of Serra have little meaning to me. However, he was an important figure in California history.

    Should we tear down statues of John Muir? How about Balboa? The original owner of Rancho Camarillo probably kept indigenous people in literal slavery. Shall we change the name of Camarillo to Freedomville to commemorate how the locals are now free from the rule of the conquistadores?

    How about we change the name of the city from San Buenaventura or even just plain Ventura because after all, that was the name of the mission. Why don’t we change it to Chumashburg to commemorate the indigenous people here before the Spanish?

    We could change the names of all the cities in California to some indigenous name. After all, all the Spanish nameplates were put in place by the terrible, nasty Spanish who came up from Mexico and enslaved (according to modern fairy tales) the locals. So all the Spanish place names have to go.

    In fact, the state shouldn’t even be called California. Perhaps it is time to divide up the state into various states to match the tribal areas of the indigenous tribes who lived here before the Spanish arrived. They could all be given the different names by which the locals called the area. After all, California is as Spanish as Fr. Serra.

    Reply
  4. P W Robinson July 1, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    It’s time to remind everyone of the laws of God Almighty, and bring His message of love.

    It’s time for Angels to rise, and I’m meeting them every day.

    We have to heal these enduring traumas. If moving the statue is the most compassionate choice, we should do it.

    Surrendering to a mob is never the compassionate choice, it’s exactly the opposite, just like de-funding the police. We must always protect the innocent, at any cost.

    These kids are heroes.

    Love over all.

    PWR

    Reply
  5. Mike Smith June 29, 2020 at 9:03 pm

    Now is the time to assume a police defunding effort is next.

    If the Marxist-Leninist Left will push this in Camarillo, then Ventura is absolutely vulnerable.

    Reply
  6. Roberto and Mary Orellana June 29, 2020 at 6:06 pm

    This is what we wrote to the City of San Buenaventura:

    Dear Council Members and City Manager McIntyre:

    A century ago, my maternal grandmother, Emilia Lopez del Castillo, came to California from Hermosillo, Mexico, to escape government oppression and mob violence. A generation later, my father, Carlos Rafael Orellana, did the same, this time from El Salvador, where the government had taken his family’s ranch — without compensation — for a dam. Both of them admired Junipero Serra and taught us about his life and work in California.

    Please keep the historic landmark statue erected for all who live and visit Ventura County to see in its current location. It is of a good man who dedicated his life to helping native Californians, Californians whom he loved and who loved him in return. Objective research of his and their lives, research done without a predetermined bias, shows that Father Serra dedicated his life to helping those he met in California, including Ventura County, to the best of his ability with the medical knowledge known at the time, centuries ago. Please do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. None of us is without fault, least of all those who threaten civil order in the guise of mob rule.

    It is not fair or decent to destroy memorials of our history by removing tributes to men and women who did their best, given the nature of the times in which they lived, for those with whom they lived and worked here in Ventura County. The current pressure to remove this statue comes from members of a lawless organization that threatened to tear down statues regardless of the facts or ordinances adopted by folks just like yourselves, laws that govern all of us equally, to protect public and private property alike.

    Please do not succumb to pressure from a group of violent activists who were determined to destroy public property without regard to the facts and laws that protect us all.

    Please don’t cave into fear and threats of violence. Please don’t give aid and comfort to lawless groups who threaten civil order.

    Thank you for your kind consideration,

    Roberto and Mary Orellana
    Santa Paula, California

    Reply
  7. Rick June 29, 2020 at 4:48 pm

    There is only one question you need to ask yourself: Was the word of Christ different in 1782 than it is today?

    Serra did not treat the indigenous people of Alta California how he would like to be treated.

    Remove the statue from public view. And when you go to church on Sunday, you should pray for Serra’s soul. He has a lot of blood on his hands.

    Reply
  8. Martin June 29, 2020 at 2:15 pm

    We may need to defund the police if they decide not to protect us.

    Reply
    • William Hicks July 3, 2020 at 1:36 pm

      IF so, what will take their place?

      Reply
  9. E. Reilly June 28, 2020 at 8:34 pm

    Well done for the catholic youths who prevented the statue from being taken down

    Reply
  10. VCsurfer June 28, 2020 at 7:42 pm

    Well said, Mr. Hernandez. The Marxist fools are trying to take over via bullyng and intimidation techniques, if not outright violence.

    Reply

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