The State

Vandals in San Diego protested the beatification of Father Junipero Serra by spray-painting a museum and dripping red paint onto a nearby statue of the Franciscan monk. The Presidio Park museum and grounds were defaced the same day that Serra was beatified at the Vatican, a Roman Catholic religious procedure that precedes sainthood. The 40-acre park was covered with spray-painted messages that variously called Serra an "Indian Killer," a "Genocidal Maniac" and "Murderous Lying Scum" and asked the retorical question: "Was Serra a saint? Then so was Hitler!" Serra came from Spain to San Diego in 1767 and founded nine California missions. Richard Oglesby, a UC Santa Barbara expert on Serra, said the monk, intending to "civilize" Indians, Christianized them and changed their diets to European. Many Indians died of food poisoning. The Franciscans also brought European diseases and more Indians died. "But you can't punish him for his ignorance," he said.

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