SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KRON) – Catholics in Marin County marched in protest Tuesday afternoon over the district attorney’s decision to reduce charges for people who vandalized a church statue. Several people were arrested back in 2020 for the vandalism at Saint Raphael Church, but they won’t be facing any jail time. 

The Father Junipero Serra statue was destroyed by five people during a protest in October 2020. Churchgoers say they’re enraged to learn that charges have been reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor by DA Lori Frugoli.

“We are very upset that the statue was torn down,” one churchgoer said. “We consider that a hate crime.”

Father Junipero Serra, a Spanish-born priest, helped establish California’s Catholic mission. Today, he is today considered a controversial figure.

“It represents not only catholic history, but also Native American Indian history,” Frugoli said. “It’s history. It happened. We need to embrace that and move forward.”

Frugoli says after a thorough review of the case by prosecutors and a long community discussion, an agreement was reached to reduce all charges from felonies to misdemeanors. 

All five people charged have now instead been ordered to pay the church for the replacement or repair of the statue. They will also have to complete 50 hours of community service, apologize in writing, and stay off the church property.

“While this issue has raised emotions because of the sensitivities around religion, community boundaries, and historic inequities, the fact is that a resolution through accountability has been reached through restorative justice and that is a victory for this community,” she said. 

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But some Catholics KRON4 spoke with believe in a harsher punishment to keep people from vandalizing church property in the future.

“I think she needs to look at her decision and think, ‘Will this stop them from doing this again?’” once Marin County resident said.

There is no set plan for when the statue will be restored, but when it is, there will be a ceremony held. The five accused vandals also have to participate in a forum in the coming months with a historian.