On Thursday morning, the Juniperro Serra statue at Lower Presidio Park in Monterey was found decapitated.
— Think Mexican (@ThinkMexican) October 16, 2015
Monterey historian Dennis Copeland told the Monterey County Weekly that the entire park was scoured to look for the missing head, but nothing was found. He added that the head can be replaced, although the cost will be steep.
The Serra monument was commissioned in 1889 by Jane Stanford, wife of Gov. Leland Stanford, who founded Stanford University. It was installed in 1891 on the ruins of the former Spanish fort El Castillo de Monterey, per the instructions of Leland Stanford.
The statue was meant to honor Serra’s landing in 1770, when he met Gaspar de Portola and his followers, prompting the founding of Monterey.
Copeland said, “It’s really unfortunate because Father Serra, aside from being a religious figure, was also the co-founder of Monterey. For whatever reason the person decided they had to attack this, they’re attacking public art and a part of our history.”
The beheading of the statue follows an incident on September 27, four days after Serra was canonized by Pope Francis, in which vandals toppled the Serra statue at Carmel Mission and splashed green and white paint over it.
Serra has been accused by Native Americans of cajoling them into baptism, then flogging them if they left the missions. He himself admitted, “I am willing to admit that in the infliction of [flogging], there may have been inequalities and excesses committed on the part of the some of the priests, and that we are all exposed to err in that regard.”