‘Racist’: statue of Spanish missionary Junipero Serra defaced in Spain
Tuesday, 23 June 2020
A statue of Spanish missionary Junipero Serra was tagged with the inscription “racist” on the Spanish island of Mallorca in the wake of worldwide anti-racism protests, an AFP photographer said Monday.
Two statues of Serra had been unbolted – in San Francisco on Friday and in Los Angeles on Saturday – during demonstrations denouncing racism in the wake of the death of African-American George Floyd, who died at the hands of a white police officer in May.
In Palma, on Serra’s native Mallorca, a red tag was discovered on Monday on the base of his statue.
Serra, who died in 1784, had founded some of the first Catholic missions in California. His canonisation in 2015 was controversial, especially to Native Americans, some of whom consider him the murderer of their people and culture.
“We are working with the American authorities to lower the pressure and tension,” Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said Monday, reacting to the unbolting of the two statues in the United States. At the same time, she pleaded for “improving knowledge in the United States of the Hispanic legacy in that country”.
In Europe, the worldwide movement to reconsider symbols of a slave and racist past has notably reached France, Britain and Belgium, where statues of colonial figures have been attacked in recent weeks.
In Belgium, it has reawakened the debate surrounding Belgium’s King Leopold II, who took the Congo as his private property. Statues of Leopold II have been defaced and some have been removed.