July 11, 2020

The City of Ventura

Dear Mayor and Members of the City Council,

The bronze cast (Replacement Statue) of FATHER JUNIPERO SERRA was unveiled in front of Ventura City Hall at a ceremony on October 20, 1989 and was attended by more than 500 people.

Junípero Serra was a Roman Catholic Spanish priest and friar of the Franciscan Order who founded nine Spanish mission in California including the Mission San Buenaventura, his ninth and final mission, on a site that became Ventura, California. As recent as September 2015, Serra was canonized as a saint by Pope Francis.  Canonization is a much scrutinized and involved process.

As we all know, beginning on May 25, 2020 with the death of George Floyd, a national reckoning of racism and violence that occurs in our country began, a movement that is extended to and includes our country’s indigenous peoples like the Chumash people.  With the reckoning movement continuing and passions running high, my advice is we need to be careful to not erase history.  What we need to do is to have a fuller and more complete appraisal of our designated hero’s especially here in California. This includes FATHER JUNIPERO SERRA.

In June of 2020 the Ventura County Star reported; “A demonstration calling for the statue’s removal from the public site brought about 200 people to the small park where the bronze figure stands…..The statue has come under scrutiny amid actions… to remove monuments honoring those deemed racist or genocidal. Some say it should be taken down on grounds Serra committed atrocities against Native Americans, including the Chumash, while establishing California’s Catholic mission system in the 18th century.”

On July 7, 2020 the Ventura City Council convened to decide the fate of the STATUE and after listening to hours of public comment, decided to meet again on July 15 to discuss the subject.  They are looking into putting it to a public vote in the November 3rd election. I would like to suggest whether or not it is put to a vote, that the City Council organize a forum to discuss FATHER JUNIPERO SERRA and that the discussion include input from historians, leaders in our state, in Ventura County and in the City of Ventura plus I think it would be appropriate to invite representatives of the Catholic Church and the Chumash people.  I feel this is a great way to get away from bias and hearsay and get to facts and hard truths.

In the interim, the STATUE must be guarded to avoid vandalism and destruction and I recommend the Ventura City Council issue a statement making it known to their community that they do not condone vandalism of private of public property.

Gary Michaels

Candidate for California Senate District 19

632 Hawthorn St.

Santa Maria, CA 93458