Recent attacks on Catholic churches and statues have police wondering if the protests against statues of historical figures have branched out to other targets.
Towards the end of June, leftist activist Shaun King criticized depictions of “white Jesus, and his European mother,” possibly connecting the recent attacks with the Black Lives Matter movement against racism.
Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Ocala, Florida
On Friday, July 10, Steven Anthony Shields, 24, drove his car into Queen of Peace Catholic Church, dumped gasoline in the foyer, set it on fire, and then drove away. Parishioners were inside preparing for Mass. Fortunately, no one was killed.
After a car chase, police arrested Shields and charged him with attempted murder, arson, burglary, and evading arrest. Shields described his act as “awesome,” claiming he was on a “mission.” Shield also told the police that he has a bad history with the Catholic Church and that he had not been taking his prescribed schizophrenia medications.
San Gabriel Mission Church in San Gabriel, California
A 249-year-old historic mission church caught fire around 4 a.m. on July 11 in a town outside Los Angeles. The roof is gone and much of the interior is damaged or destroyed. While the cause of the fire is currently unknown, local fire captain Antonio Negrete says that the recent attacks on Junipero Serra statues (the founder of the California mission system) have influenced the investigation to consider arson. The San Gabriel church was founded by Serra in 1771.
Statue of the Virgin Mary outside St. Peter Parish in Boston, Massachusetts
Late in the evening on Saturday, July 11, police responded to a fire outside St. Peter Catholic Church. An outdoor statue of the Virgin Mary — originally installed decades ago as a memorial for killed World War II servicemen — had been vandalized. The statue held plastic flowers in her hands, which had been set on fire. The flames damaged the arms and the face of the statue.
Statue of the Virgin Mary in Queens, New York
On Friday, July 10 at 3 a.m., someone painted “IDOL” on a statue of the Virgin Mary at the Cathedral Prep School and Seminary in Queens. While the perpetrator was recorded by the security camera, they have not yet been identified.