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Police Investigating Vandalism to Santa Barbara Mission’s Junipero Serra Statue

Statue appears to have been beheaded and defaced overnight Sunday or early Monday morning

The statue of Junipero Serra at the Santa Barbara Mission is covered Monday after being vandalized. Click to view larger
The statue of Junipero Serra at the Santa Barbara Mission is covered Monday after being vandalized.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

The Father Junípero Serra statue at the Santa Barbara Mission has been vandalized and defaced, Santa Barbara police said on Monday.

The Santa Barbara Police Department is investigating the case, spokesman Anthony Wagner said. 

Photos show the statue was decapitated and splashed with what appears to be red paint, but it has since been covered with a blanket. 

Monica Orozco, executive director of the Santa Barbara Mission, said the organization has not yet decided if the statue will be replaced.

“We will let people know once we know more information,” Orozco said. “We reported it to SBPD this morning. It likely happened during the night or early in the morning.”

Orozco said the William H. Hannon Foundation made the bronze statue of Serra, a Spanish Franciscan friar who founded nine California missions.

Police are investigating the vandalism of a Junipero Serra statue at the Santa Barbara Mission, which was decapitated and splattered with what appears to be red paint. Click to view larger
Police are investigating the vandalism of a Junipero Serra statue at the Santa Barbara Mission, which was decapitated and splattered with what appears to be red paint.  (John Palminteri / KEYT.com photo)

Serra, who died in 1784 at the age of 71, was canonized by Pope Francis in 2015. 

The decision to name Serra a saint was controversial, since his critics point to a history of driving out thousands of Native Americans in his quest to spread Christianity. 

The Los Angeles Times reported in August that a Serra statue in Mission Hills, across the street from the San Fernando Mission, had the word “murderer” painted on its base and its hands were painted red. 

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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