St Junipero Serra statue faces the ground memorial after being vandalised with red spray painting in San Francisco. (Reuters)
San Francisco Archbishop Salvadore Cordileone criticized the pulling down of the Junipero Serra statue in Golden Gate Park.
``What is happening to our society? A renewed national movement to heal memories and correct the injustices of racism and police brutality in our country has been hijacked by some into a movement of violence, looting and vandalism,'' he said in a statement Saturday night.
Serra was an 18th century Roman Catholic priest who founded nine of California's 21 Spanish missions and is credited with bringing Roman Catholicism to the Western United States.
Serra 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.