Mary Rose Short
Marin County prosecutors have filed felony vandalism charges against five people after a mob destroyed a statue of St. Junípero Serra at Mission San Rafael Arcángel last month.
If convicted, the vandals could be sentenced to up to three years in prison and fined up to $50,000. Separately, the California Highway Patrol made an arrest in connection with the July 4 toppling of the Serra statue at Sacramento’s Capitol Park.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, whose archdiocese of San Francisco includes San Rafael, described the Marin County prosecutors’ decision as a “breakthrough moment for Catholics.” In a statement released Nov. 13, he said the “decision to prosecute on the charge of felony vandalism represents the first time that any of the lawbreakers attacking statues of St. Junípero Serra and other acts of vandalism on Catholic Church property across California will be held accountable for their actions in a court of law.”
Despite the recommendation of the San Rafael Police Department, Marin County prosecutors did not include additional charges of vandalizing a place of worship — a hate crime — for each of the suspects.
“Given that this was vandalism at a house of worship, the San Rafael Police Department understandably recommended that the perpetrators be charged with a hate crime,” Archbishop Cordileone said. “Indeed, to vandalize a house of worship to express one’s views is not a mere property crime: it is an attack on the identity and rights of a whole faith community.”
Read more at National Catholic Register