Van­dals dam­age Old Santa Bar­bara Mis­sion with red paint, $30,000 in dam­ages

Porterville Recorder - - STATE - THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SANTA BAR­BARA, Calif. — Van­dals caused as much as $30,000 in dam­age to Old Mis­sion Santa

Bar­bara, spray­ing the stone fa­cade of the cen­turies-old build­ing with red paint and scrawl­ing "rape" and other words, in­clud­ing a mis­spelling of geno­cide, across its walls. The dam­age was dis­cov­ered early Wed­nes­day by a passer-by who called po­lice.

No one has been ar­rested. Po­lice say they hope sur­veil­lance video and other ev­i­dence might lead to sus­pects.

"It's not the hap­pi­est way to start the day," Mon­ica Orozco, the mis­sion's ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, told the Los An­ge­les Times. "It's dis­ap­point­ing and upset­ting."

The words "never for­get the lives + land stolen" were also writ­ten in red paint on a side build­ing where as many as 30 Fran­cis­can fri­ars sleep.

"My first thought is al­ways for the fri­ars who live here be­cause it's their home," Orozco said. "Imag­ine hav­ing your home van­dal­ized. It's a real in­va­sion of your life and can make you feel un­safe."

Au­thor­i­ties told the Times they be­lieve the van­dal­ism may have been a protest of Span­ish treat­ment of Na­tive Amer­i­cans dur­ing the years Spain con­trolled Cal­i­for­nia.

The mis­sion, founded in 1786, is a pop­u­lar tourist at­trac­tion as well as an ac­tive parish serv­ing hun­dreds of fam­i­lies.

It was the 10th of Cal­i­for­nia's 21 mis­sions founded by Span­ish Fran­cis­can priests and one of the most beau­ti­ful with its tow­er­ing spires, clas­sic Span­ish Cal­i­for­nia ar­chi­tec­ture and lush gar­dens.

Orozco said mis­sion of­fi­cials hope to have the dam­age re­paired in time for a wed­ding sched­uled Satur­day.

The mis­sion was van­dal­ized last year when some­one poured paint on a statue of St. Ju­nipero Serra and cut off its head. Serra founded many of Cal­i­for­nia's mis­sions.

No one was ar­rested.

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