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One 12 months later, advocates stress for prices to be dropped in toppling of Serra statue

(RNS) — A 12 months after the Junipero Serra statue toppling in San Rafael, simply north of San Francisco, advocates are urging the Marin County district lawyer to drop the felony prices towards the 5 protesters who had been arrested after the monument was torn down on Indigenous Peoples Day.

“There ought to be a separation between church and state,” stated Corrina Gould, a spokesperson for the Confederated Villages of Lisjan/Ohlone, at a digital press convention Monday (Oct. 11).

“The state is definitely doing the violence of the church, it’s upholding these 5 people to be persecuted as a result of the church decides that they need to have any individual to carry accountable to their perception methods,” added Gould, who in 2015 advocated towards Serra’s sainthood.

Melissa Aguilar, Mayorgi Nadieska Delgadillo, Victoria Eva Montano Pena, Moira Van De Walker and Andrew Lester Mendle — who’re known as the “Indigenous Peoples 5” — are every going through one depend of felony vandalism for leveling the statue at Mission San Rafael Arcángel in San Rafael, in response to a complaint filed Nov. 12, 2020, by the Marin County District Lawyer’s Workplace. Damages had been estimated at $10,000, in response to the criticism.


RELATED: Where Serra statues once stood, a chance to honor California’s Indigenous people


A court docket date is scheduled Oct. 15 for the setting of their preliminary listening to.

Within the days after the toppling, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone applauded the fees as a “breakthrough second for Catholics” and known as on the district lawyer to “press prices to the total extent of the regulation.” He urged they need to even be charged with a hate crime.

To the protesters’ supporters, it doesn’t make sense that the district lawyer is constant with the fees whilst Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a regulation to exchange the Serra statue — that, earlier than its toppling, stood on the grounds of the California Capitol since 1967 — with a memorial for the state’s Native People.

And in Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti, metropolis officers and tribal leaders marked Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday by asserting the world informally often called Father Serra Park, the place his statue was toppled final summer season, would be officially renamed.

“It actually raises the query, ‘why isn’t Marin following go well with?’” stated Annie Banks, a supporter of the protesters, on the digital press convention.


RELATED: Who is Junipero Serra and why are California protesters toppling statues of this saint?


Hasmik Geghamyan, one of many 5 attorneys defending the protesters, attended the digital occasion and stated the fees had been “useless” and “politically motivated.”

“There may be an over emphasis on a restitution from the DA’s workplace. The statue was donated to the church by a developer many a long time in the past,” Geghamyan stated.

This donation, she stated, is thru a tax exempt entity.

“This brings the query of complicity, and likewise violation of the institution clause as a result of the DA’s workplace is concerned within the operations of the church,” she stated. “This additionally places a query on the separation of church and state.”

“If this was really a democracy, the DA’s workplace would haven’t even introduced these prices within the first place,” Geghamyan stated.

Geghamyan stated she will not be conscious of another prices that stemmed from the toppling of the Serra statues within the state. The Marin County district lawyer’s workplace didn’t reply to a request for remark earlier than publication.

Greater than 80,000 folks have signed a change.org petition urging District Lawyer Lori Frugoli to drop the fees towards the protesters. “All 5 going through prices are Indigenous girls and Two Spirited folks,” in response to the petition.

“Whereas monuments to racism and violence are being eliminated by metropolis and state officers, faculties, parks and activists throughout the state, the town of San Rafael is refusing to acknowledge the harms perpetrated towards Indigenous folks and has determined to file felony prices towards 5 of the fifty demonstrators,” the petition reads.


RELATED: We have a story to tell: Indigenous scholars, activists speak up amid toppling of Serra statues


Whereas Serra, an 18th-century Franciscan priest and Catholic saint, is credited with spreading the Catholic religion in what’s now California, critics say he was a part of an imperial conquest that enslaved Native People.

This public scrutiny of Serra has reemerged within the wake of Black Lives Matter protests denouncing institutional racism and police brutality and led to the toppling of monuments honoring Accomplice leaders. Statues had been toppled in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento.

Cordileone and Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez have issued letters staunchly defending the picture and historical past of Serra and criticizing those that defaced the statues.

These responses have galvanized Indigenous students who need the Catholic Church to completely admit to a historical past of colonialism that led to the lack of tradition and land among the many Native neighborhood.

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