Dozens demonstrate for removal of Father Serra statues

Dozens of people staged a demonstration on Saturday at the Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana in Mission Hills calling for the removal of statues of Father Junipero Serra, who founded nine of the 21 Catholic missions in California and was named a saint in 2015.  

Demonstrators from La Raza Unida were holding a poster at the Serra statue in Mission Hills with the words, "MI$$ION$, PLANTATION$, PRI$ON$," and showed protesters covering the statue with plastic.  

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The district community of the Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians issued a statement saying the tribal government is working with local government officials to permanently remove Serra statues.  

"The Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians supports the removal of statues glorifying individuals who brought violence and oppressive systems, and attempted to extinguish our lifeways throughout our traditional homelands of San Fernando, Simi, Santa Clarita, and Antelope valleys through policy change and advocacy," the tribal organization said.  

The statement did not support toppling the statues. "The Tribe is working with local governments and communities to support an open and transparent process for the removal of these statues. The Tribe asks for the community's support towards its pursuit to remove the Junipero Serra statues in its homelands through diplomatic methods."  

The demonstration came a week after protesters toppled a statue of Serra in a park near Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles.  

Serra was canonized by Pope Francis in a mass on September 23, 2015 in Washington D.C., the first canonization to take place on U.S. soil. He is the patron saint of vocations to Church ministry, according to the University of Notre Dame.