The Marin County District Attorney’s Office announced that it reached a resolution in a case involving vandalism to a statue of Saint Junipero Serra during a protest at a Catholic church in 2020.

Five people were arrested after the statue of the man who established the system of Catholic missions in California was destroyed during a protest at the Saint Raphael Catholic Church in San Rafael on Oct. 12, 2020.

In November of that year, prosecutors filed felony vandalism charges against Ines Shiam Gardilcic, 40, of Oakland; Victoria Eva Montanopena, 29, also of Oakland; Melissa Aguilar, 36, of Novato; Mayorgi Nadeska Delgadillo, 36, of San Rafael; and Moira Cribben Van de Walker, 25, of San Anselmo.

All charges have now been reduced to misdemeanors, prosecutors said.

Police learned through social media of plans to vandalize and possibly remove the Saint Serra statue, which protesters saw as a symbol of atrocities against Indigenous peoples.

Demonstrators allegedly threw paint on the statue, then pulled it down, according to police.

A week before the vandalism, officers became aware through social media that people planned to vandalize and possibly remove the statue, which they saw as a symbol of atrocities against Indigenous peoples.

The event became a hot-button issue, with supporters of the protesters referring to them as the “Indigenous Peoples’ Day Five” and calling for the Marin County District Attorney’s Office to drop the charges against them.

A Twitter post includes a photo of the damage done to the Saint Junipero Serra statue at Mission San Rafael Arcangel.

Marin County District Attorney Lori Frugoli said that the resolution of the case came through an “innovative restorative justice” process involving discussions with church and community members, legal counsel for both sides and the help of Rochelle Edwards of the Transformative Justice Institute.

In addition to having their charges reduced, each defendant must pay restitution to the church for repair or replacement of the statue, complete 50 hours of volunteer work, apologize in writing, stay off church property and participate in a community forum to be held in the coming months “with a credible historian who will give stakeholders a chance to have a meaningful dialogue about the issue,” prosecutors said.

“It is the District Attorney’s Office’s goal to achieve a fair result on all cases, and I strongly believe justice was served on this one,” Frugoli said in a May 25 statement. “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.”

Katy St. Clair got her start in journalism by working in the classifieds department at the East Bay Express during the height of alt weeklies, then sweet talked her way into becoming staff writer, submissions editor, and music editor. She has been a columnist in the East Bay Express, SF Weekly, and the San Francisco Examiner. Starting in 2015, she begrudgingly scaled the inverted pyramid at dailies such as the Vallejo Times-Herald, The Vacaville Reporter, and the Daily Republic. She has her own independent news site and blog that covers the delightfully dysfunctional town of Vallejo, California, where she also collaborates with the investigative team at Open Vallejo. A passionate advocate for people with developmental disabilities, she serves on both the Board of the Arc of Solano and the Arc of California. She lives in Vallejo.