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Native Angelenos Just Tore Down A Statue Of Junipero Serra On Olvera Street

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Screenshot from a video by LA Taco
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California might not have any Confederate statues, but we do have plenty of monuments to Junipero Serra, widely known as the "father" of the California Missions. He's less known for what actually happened — the mass destruction of the Native population in California.

Today, a group of Native activists tore down the statue of Serra on Olvera Street. LA Taco producer Memo Torres captured a video:

As the statue lay on the ground, Native children used it as a bench. Red paint was also splashed over Serra's head and the statue was torn down with a rope around the neck.

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Activists tore down a Serra statue in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park yesterday, as well as a statue of Francis Scott Key, composer of "The Star Spangled Banner," who was a known slave owner.

Serra was a Spanish priest,who came to what was then Alta California (part of Mexico), to spread Catholicism to the indigenous population. (Here in L.A. that was mostly people from the Tongva tribe.)

Serra eventually spearheaded 21 missions on the coast, from San Diego to San Francisco. The missionaries were responsible for the ultimate destruction of Tongva culture. Tongva people who joined the missions in California essentially became slaves, forced to do manual labor. They suffered from disease, many of the women were raped, and thousands died or were killed. Those who resisted and remained in the countryside often starved, as their hunting grounds were turned into farms by the colonizers.

Pope Francis canonized Serra in 2015. Some 50 different tribes in California condemned the sainthood, according to Deborah Miranda, author of "Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir," a book about her ancestors' experiences in the Spanish missions. She is a member of the Ohlone Costanoan Esselen Nation of California.

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A statue of Father Junipero Serra stands in front of the San Gabriel Mission in San Gabriel, California. In 2015, Pope Francis canonized the controversial Spanish missionary. (Frederic J. Brown / AFP via Getty Images)
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This isn't the first time Serra monuments have been vandalized. In 2017, a Serra statue outside the Santa Barbara Mission was decapitated and covered in red paint. Another lost its head in Monterey. Another in Mission Hills was tagged with the word, "murderer."

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