Serra on the move

On July 23, the statue was removed and taken to a temporary location.

The Ventura City Council voted unanimously 6-0 (with Mayor LaVere recusing himself) to remove the Father Serra statue in front of City Hall and temporarily have it stored. It most likely will eventually be moved to the courtyard at the Mission San Buenaventura. The City Council also approved the removal of the wooden statue of Father Serra from inside City Hall and asked that it be moved into storage until an appropriate site for it is selected.

Some historians blame Father Serra for what they say were his efforts to do away with Native American culture in California and for the deaths of thousands of indigenous people.

Mission San Buenaventura, founded by Serra in 1782 as the last of his nine missions, has been named a minor basilica by Pope Francis. It becomes the first church in the Catholic archdiocese to claim that distinction and the seventh in California.

Councilmember Jim Friedman told the Breeze “Rather than look at it emotionally, I looked at it pragmatically. In the last month, California had three Serra statues ripped off their podiums and destroyed. It was clear to me that it wasn’t a matter of if, but when ours would be destroyed as well. Unless we were willing to spend hundreds of thousands of tax-payer dollars a year to protect the statue, a good compromise was to relocate it to the mission. That way, people who appreciate the statue can enjoy it for many years to come. Those who do not, would now have it out of prominent public view. This isn’t giving in to threats. We are simply getting ahead of the situation in an effort to secure the safety of our statue. It’s not a perfect solution, but one that provides a sensible compromise.”

Councilmember Christy Weir went on “As a City Council member representing this community, my goals in supporting the relocation of the Father Serra statue to the Mission Basilica San Buenaventura are to:”

“Honor the Chumash, whose home this has been for over 12,000 years, by determining a more fitting place for the statue.”

“Honor the Catholics and others who revere Serra by caring for his statue in a safe location where his significance will be 100% celebrated.”

“Honor the craftspeople and artists who created the work of art, by acknowledging their talents and contributions.”

“Each community has times when it’s important to consider the symbols and monuments  we celebrate. These changes need to be made through collaboration and deliberation, not resorting to vandalism, to ensure that the decision is thoughtful and durable. Even if we don’t find a statue objectionable, respect for our original inhabitants should inspire us to consider those who do. We received thousands of heartfelt communications about this decision, sharing their opinions and personal connections to Ventura, as well as diverse historical perspectives. My understanding of the Chumash and Mission periods has grown, and I am grateful to live in a community that cares so deeply about our heritage.”

The wood statue of Father Serra, on display in the City Hall atrium will also be relocated.

Regarding the move Ventura City Manager, Alex D. McIntyre stated “In recent weeks, the City of Ventura received thousands of emails, phone calls, and public comments (equally divided) about the Father Junipero Serra statue. Last night, the City Council reached a peaceful resolution to remove and relocate two Serra statues.”

“When a group of people has suffered trauma, we all need to step up and do something to heal that. The actions the Council took are a step forward as we stand in solidarity with our Chumash community. As we relocate the statues, we hope to provide healing time for our City and find a more suitable place for the Father Serra statues to be protected and preserved,”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email