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Vandals Deface Junipero Serra Mission

On Monday morning, red paint was found splattered on the door of the Santa Cruz Mission, with graffiti accusing Father Junipero Serra of genocide painted on the walls.

One young student at the school at the mission, Eli Moody, 8, told KSBW, “When we got to school everyone was talking about it.” He added that his teachers tried to explain why vandals would have targeted the church, but he and his fellow students were upset by the damage. He said, “It’s a church and you should respect it because God lives in there.”

Vandals have lashed out at Junipero Serra four times in northern California since his September 23 canonization by Pope Francis. The first attack occurred on the very day Serra was canonized, when black paint was poured on a statue of Serra at the north end of Carmel. Another attack in late September featured vandals striking the Carmel Mission where Serra is buried, toppling statues and damaging gravesites, even painting “Saint of Genocide” on a headstone. A third attack occurred in mid-October, with the decapitation of the Serra statue in the Lower Presidio Historic park in Monterey. The last attack in Santa Cruz was the fourth.

Monterey police sergeant Ron Blair told KSBW that police are unsure whether the prior three attacks were committed by the same person.

Police told KSBW they still are unsure when the vandalism at the Santa Cruz mission occurred; they do not have enough information to conclude that the act was a hate crime. Police do not have any suspects.

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