SAN RAFAEL, Calif. - A planned protest by members of the Coast Miwok of Marin turned to vandalism Monday night in downtown San Rafael.
The group of around 60 people gathered on this Indigenous Peoples' Day to call for the removal of a statue of Saint Junipero Serra at Mission San Rafael.
Then a small group tore the statue down.
Organizers said it's a day to honor indigenous people, their ancestors.
"To tell our true history and who we are," says Dean Hoaglin with Coast Miwok of Marin. "Our people were forcibly put here. They did not ask to come here to this mission. They were enslaved here.
Before the protest, a church maintenance worker wrapped Serra's statue in duct tape and took other precautions: covering another statue and boarding up the mission's windows.
Several protestors can be seen using rocks to chip away at the statue.
They tried to keep a KTVU crew from videotaping the vandalism.
Protestors tied ropes around the statue, eventually toppling it.
Organizers say they did not ask supporters to take it down but say they're glad it happened.
"You go to the city. You go to the board. It's all dragged out. We don't want to do that. We just want to get it done," says Lucina Vidauri with Coast Miwok of Marin.
In June, historical statues including Serra's were toppled by protestors at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.
In response, Catholic Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone wrote:
"It was mob rule, a troubling phenomenon that seems to be repeating itself throughout the country."
This past summer, Larkspur city officials removed a Sir Francis Drake statue when they heard protestors threatened to take it down.
"There has to be a conversation. Everybody that has an interest in the outcome has to be heard," said Larkspur Vice Mayor Kevin Haroff.
Archbishop Cordileone defended the importance of the statue. He wrote, "St. Serra made heroic sacrifices to protect the indigenous people of California from their Spanish conquerors, especially the soldiers."
Coast Miwoks say Serra is responsible for the destruction of Native American culture.
"My ancestors didn't have choices or discussions. This is my Miwok land," said Vidauri
San Rafael police say five women were arrested, cited and released.
They face felony vandalism charges.
There were church members who witnessed the toppling of statue and say they were upset.
They declined to speak out, saying that they are fearful of retaliation.