FREMONT (CBS SF) — The church and museum at Mission San Jose in Fremont were still being cleaned up Thursday after being vandalized with graffiti last Friday.

The buildings were tagged with anti-colonial messages such as “Ohlone land,” “Catholicism is a colonizer religion,” and “Genocide is not a spectacle” in red spray paint.

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Church officials believe the vandalism happened at around 3 a.m. Friday based on what was captured on security camera footage.

A statue of Father Junipero Serra in the mission’s courtyard was also vandalized with red paint and an American flag was also defaced, according to Bay Area News Group.

Mission San Jose was founded in 1797 and was inhabited by Ohlone Indians. An earthquake in 1868 destroyed the adobe church and other buildings. Reconstruction of the church replica began in 1982 and was completed in 1985.

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Serra, an 18th century Roman Catholic priest who founded nine of California’s 21 Spanish missions, is credited with bringing Roman Catholicism to the Western United States.

His legacy within the state has also drawn a great deal of criticism because he forced Native Americans to stay at those missions after they were converted or face brutal punishment. His statues have been defaced in California for several years by people who said he destroyed tribes and their culture.

Thursday afternoon, the diocese of Oakland sent the following statement to KPIX:

Statues and the exterior walls of Mission San Jose in Fremont were vandalized early on the morning of Friday, Nov. 5. Red paint was spray-painted on walls and other surfaces of the mission and museum and a statue was covered with the red paint.

Fremont police are investigating.

The vandalism is one of a growing number of cases of church vandalism and anti-Catholic hate crimes being reported throughout the United States. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops lists more than 100 such incidents that have been reported since May 2020 (http://usccb.org/committees/religious-liberty/Backgrounder-Attacks-on-Catholic-Churches-in-US).

“I am deeply saddened by this criminal behavior,” Bishop Michael Barber said. “I pray for those who have been assaulted spiritually by this act. May those who committed this terrible act be moved to a conversion of heart and may justice restore peace for all.”

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