Ventura acted within it’s rights in removing Serra

Several years ago the Ventura City Council voted unanimously 6-0 (with then Mayor LaVere recusing himself) to remove the Father Serra statue in front of City Hall and temporarily have it stored. At the time the City Council also approved the removal of the wooden statue of Father Serra from inside City Hall that was the basis for the statue. The council voted on July 15, 2020, to remove the statue.

Critics felt the statue should be taken down because Serra committed atrocities against Native Americans, including the Chumash, while establishing California’s Catholic mission system in the 18th century.

Less than a week later the Coalition for Historical Integrity filed a lawsuit against the city in Ventura County Superior Court. The coalition, a grassroots group of current and former Ventura residents, also filed for a temporary restraining order to stop the removal, but the request was denied in court.

This wooden statue was previously located at City Hall.

A state appeals court has ruled Ventura acted within its legal rights when removing the statue. The Second District Court of Appeal, Division 6, upheld a previous ruling on the city’s removal of the statue.

Presiding Justice Arthur Gilbert wrote “This case illustrates the obvious; attitudes and values change. The city of San Buenaventura removed a statue of Father Junípero Serra because it is now offensive to significant members of the community. We do not judge the wisdom or the action of the city’s legislative enactments. We affirm because the city acted within its legislative prerogative.”

Ventura City Attorney Andy Heglund said the city is “pleased to see the merits” of the City Council’s decision upheld by the appeals court. In 2020, the statue was peacefully and collaboratively relocated to a non-public location, reflecting the city’s commitment to listen to the voices of the community through a public process,”

The wooden statue previously located at City Hall has been relocated to the Padre Serra Parish in Camarillo. The bronze statue is secured safely in storage until it can be relocated and installed at a permanent location.


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