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Columbus Day vandalism

On a holiday stroll this Columbus Day morning, as I was ruminating in disgust about the national glorification of a cold-blooded killer, I was surprised and then pleased as I came upon a defaced Santa Cruz Mission. The Mission, a foremost landmark of genocide in the county. Beneath the austere whiteness of the plaster, its walls are sullied with the blood of the native people who once lived here - enslaved, diseased, and exterminated by the thousands in the name of the white man's God.
I walked around the building to get a better look. The plaster walls had been spraypainted and windows were smashed in. Here are a couple pictures.
miss2.jpg
miss1.jpg
Columbus Day vandalism

October 10th, 2005

On a holiday stroll this Columbus Day morning, as I was ruminating in disgust about the national glorification of a cold-blooded killer, I was surprised and then pleased as I came upon a defaced Santa Cruz Mission. The Mission, a foremost landmark of genocide in the county. Beneath the austere whiteness of the plaster, its walls are sullied with the blood of the native people who once lived here - enslaved, diseased, and exterminated by the thousands in the name of the white man's God.
I walked around the building to get a better look. The plaster walls had been spraypainted and windows were smashed in. Here are a couple pictures.
 
 


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Re: Columbus Day vandalism

i am glad to see people fighting back against colonialism and the big lie.

great reportback and pictures
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

thank you for the coverage!

I know there's a long history of resistance especially in Santa Cruz. Maybe you'd be interested in doing an article? A while ago an article was posted talking about lynching in Santa Cruz and the role of the SC Sentinel.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

I've never visited this mission before but...perhaps the time and energy it took to damage the place as well as the gov't money that will restore it could have been better spent pushing and building a better curriculum to be offered inside this location. NAZI deathcamps remain so people can visit and become educated; perhaps the missions should too?
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

I completely agree with you Dave. I don't think vandalism does anything except maybe piss people off. There are better ways of getting a point across.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

Re: Columbus Day vandalism
by Dave
> I've never visited this mission before
> but...perhaps the time and energy it took to
> damage the place as well as the gov't money that
> will restore it could have been better spent
> pushing and building a better curriculum to be
> offered inside this location.

We can't build a better curriculum if they won't allow us. Pushing for it to be allowed, has failed and continues to fail. A little extra time and energy would very likely have changed nothing.

Be realistic. How much does it take to tag a wall? Any kid can do it. Thus no redirection of significant resources.

I'd rather see the government spend money repainting that wall, than spend it on most of the crap they fund.

If a thief is caught in your neighborhood, should he not be punished for fear that he'll just increase his crime later to offset his own losses from the punishment?

Force is required to address force when civil solutions fail.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

In regards to curriculum, local kids are now required to read Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States at Pacific Collegiate School. That is a Santa Cruz County charter school that is open to all students.

Also, I am a student of history and while I know that most of the missions in today's Mexico and Central America were centers of enslavement and genocide, not all of the missions in California were. Some actually had a commune-like environment, meeting the needs of the local communities. (Source of information: the book, Mexican Americans, Amercian Mexicans.)

Let's all continue to fight oppression in the many forms it takes.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

Just a FYI - Santa Cruz's mission was particularily harsh. Local indigenous peoples were enslaved and the priest was known to beat them. More info here:

Dirty Santa Cruz Secrets: Hanging on Water St. Bridge
santacruz.indymedia.org/newswire/display/17862/index.php
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

Thanks for setting me straight and for the link to the great article. I'm motived to learn more.

If anyone else is also interested in researching local history, they should check out the upcoming FreeSkool Class, Reasearching Local History with Blaize. I think the schedule should be coming out in a couple of weeks.

Knowledge is Power.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

Say... should we vandalize the ancient Aztec ruins because they carried out human sacrifices?..

Vandalism is merely the results of imature characters who are puzzled as to why people ignore them (and then they spray paint the reason why on a wall).

I read howard zinn at SHS alongside a regular text book, I thought that was a pretty cool way of doing it...
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

I can understand the frustration. The truth of genocide against native people is still hidden by the U.S. government. Historic sites should be used to teach this truth. What was done with spray paint should be done in the official tours.

In response to "n5667", nobody is hiding the truth of the Aztecs.

A good point was made with this action, but vandalizing historic sites, I can't say I like the idea.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

Sounds like some believe that changing the curriculum to reflect the true history of the mission is not likely to happen. I have not seen the curriculum at the mission so I can't even say that what they are teaching lacks in content or misrepresents history. I am curious though, what agency is responsible for the upkeep and operation of this site? Has the subject of reexamining the curriculum come up recently? If anyone knows, please enlighten us.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

I think that vandalism is generally the act of people who can't think of a more creative, interesting, or powerful way to express themselves.

Also, have any of you actually gone on the tour of the Mission? Do you know how they actually present the information? Don't laud someone's allegedly "stick it to the Man" actions until whether you know that it is, in fact, the Man who is being stuck. The Boardwalk is a "tourist trap." The Mission is a State Historic Park. I wonder which one the vandals have spent more time at?
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

Oh, and thanks so much to "Columbus Sucks" for plugging my class. As you can see from my comment, I am a cranky stickler for information and thoughtful action. But, I also am very hands off when it comes to other people's projects. So, if you want some tips of how to research stuff, such as the Santa Cruz Mission, I will give you the tools and then leave you alone. Although, if you vandalize something, please don't tell me; it just makes me sad.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

Finally, the house where the vandal lives is also stolen land, and part of a native holocaust. Maybe we should go vandalize the vandal's house.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

I don't know whether these particular historic buildings should have been vandalized or not, but stop your psychologizing on people who commit political acts that you might disagree with. People who are against property destruction always come up with some ageist psychobabble to justify their smugness. Grafitti on a military contractor for example is usually an enhancement especially if it's some kind of anti-war statement.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

Well, I'm a little curious about who actually runs the missions, because down here in Santa Barbara the mission is still a functioning church, and it even touches upon the treatment of native americans.

...However, the mission in Santa Cruz is just a reproduction of the original one, so who knows who runs that one, I've never bothered to go...

I'll simplify the psychobabble to something very simple for ya - only assholes vandalize. Very simple. Respect for other people's property (or in this case, everyone else's property) is important.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

I don't think the Catholic priests of the mission could deliver a better sermon!

"but vandalizing historic sites, I can't say I like the idea."

"I think that vandalism is generally the act of people who can't think of a more creative, interesting, or powerful way to express themselves."

"Vandalism is merely the results of imature characters who are puzzled as to why people ignore them"

"only assholes vandalize. Very simple."
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

"un chiste", Thanks for quoting my words out of context. But let’s get things into proportion. There is quite a divide between speaking out against vandalism and holding the racist philosophy of the genocidal priests. Please don't lump me into that group.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

Clarification: I don’t want to look like I’m claiming all of the quotes above, only one was from me.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

The act of "vandalizing" public places could also be looked at as reclaiming your piece of public property. It's all in the way you frame it.

Since we're on the topic of religious sites, I think it is interesting to consider the synoptic gospel's account of Jesus "vandalizing" the capitalists' stuff outside of the temple in Jerusalem. According to one account, he threw over tables and drove them out with a whip! Looks like Jesus was a vandal, too.

Hey.... who wants to help me on my religious quest to whip Pat Robertson? ;-)
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

The act of "vandalizing" public places could also be looked at as reclaiming your piece of public property. It's all in the way you frame it.

Since we're on the topic of religious sites, I think it is interesting to consider the synoptic gospel's account of Jesus "vandalizing" the capitalists' stuff outside of the temple in Jerusalem. According to one account, he threw over tables and drove them out with a whip! Looks like Jesus was a vandal, too.

Hey.... who wants to help me on my religious quest to whip Pat Robertson? ;-)
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

"some ageist psychobabble to justify their smugness."
Okay, where did age come into my comments? I didn't vandalize when I was teenager, either.

Also, while I may be smug, I don't think that "creative, interesting, or powerful" qualifies as psychobabble. If I said that vandals were just trying to make up for small or non-functioning sexual organs, or trying to override past abuse, THAT would be psychobabble. And would be stupid. What I said is known as an "opinion."

Once again, I ask if you have actually visited the Mission SHP, and whether their message is all pro-Mission.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

The location is public property and it does not serve to physically harm any of us...the public. It just seems to me that this is not a well thought out act of political resistance. It damaged a park belonging to the people. Again I would prefer to see the resources spent on ensuring the mission has an accurate message that covers the paradigm of all people impacted by the mission (if in fact the mission does not do this already).

I equate this damage to the taggers that have been hitting the bus stops up and down Brommer. This is not a reclamation of anything, it is damage to a community asset which belongs to the people. Go damage corporate property and I'll sing a different tune but leave the people alone.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

1) Property destruction has always been a weapon of resistance for those who don't own property. Property is theft, by a few of the many.

2) Grafitti, detournement, reclaiming space, etc. are methods WITHIN A STRUGGLE, whereby we reject both legalist or moral arguements. ie These ideas of right and wrong are fluid, and are often subject to change. Case in point that grafitti is an important social movement in the US, and everywhere militarized space exists. However, classics both deny that ..our own history.. while generating absolute morals
quote "respect for other people's property is important" end quote
which implicitly negate a legitimate usurping of a space that is contested.

3) One might say that criticizing 'vandalism' is a classic liberal position: holding ideals of 'equality' and 'fairness' up as replacement for an understanding of social struggles or situations, in which one is often induced into fighting for what they already have( maintaining the status quo) rather than for a destruction of the power structure.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

Zig-zag,

"1) Property destruction has always been a weapon of resistance for those who don't own property. Property is theft, by a few of the many."

I would argue that "property" is a term used to refer to privately held productive property. The space in question here is not private property it is non-productive public property with public access. I am not defending a right to private property, I do not believe such a right exists.

2) Grafitti, detournement, reclaiming space, etc. are methods WITHIN A STRUGGLE, whereby we reject both legalist or moral arguements. ie These ideas of right and wrong are fluid, and are often subject to change. Case in point that grafitti is an important social movement in the US, and everywhere militarized space exists. However, classics both deny that ..our own history.. while generating absolute morals
quote "respect for other people's property is important" end quote
which implicitly negate a legitimate usurping of a space that is contested."

First, I did not make a moral argument. I said that it would be more effective to choose a different form of political action. Second, this space is already in the public realm. Last, although grafitti can be a political tool I believe it to be innaccurate to proclaim the current grafitti trend in our country as political. Most of it is not. The vast majority of what is out there is put up by bored teens putting there name out everywhere to become a bigger fish in the pond. Thrill seeking, yes. Political, weak at best. The method chosen here WITHIN THE STRUGGLE has hurt the STRUGGLE.

"3) One might say that criticizing 'vandalism' is a classic liberal position: holding ideals of 'equality' and 'fairness' up as replacement for an understanding of social struggles or situations, in which one is often induced into fighting for what they already have( maintaining the status quo) rather than for a destruction of the power structure."

One might say this argument would be fine if we were speaking about private productive property but we aren't. Your argument as a whole is a defense of luddites. While it is nice to understand the perspective of the luddite I would argue to them, just as I argue to you, that there are more effective "methods" to resist oppression than destroying a public space intended for public use. This action is counter productive in my opinion.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

Zig-Zag says, "One might say that criticizing 'vandalism' is a classic liberal position: holding ideals of 'equality' and 'fairness' up as replacement for an understanding of social struggles or situations, in which one is often induced into fighting for what they already have (maintaining the status quo) rather than for a destruction of the power structure."

Personally I do not oppose vandalism in general. Historic sites, however, have a value whether or not they mark deep evils of the past. This site should be preserved and its true history disseminated.

AS FOR REVOLUTION:

Breaking a few windows and spray-painting a message will not destroy the power structure. Popular support will. This will not be a popular action.

From war to infringements on civil liberties to austerity: The people, for the time being, are being routed. Fighting back for what you already have is inherently pro-revolutionary when the system we live under is fighting against the people to take everything away.

The difference between liberals and revolutionaries is that liberals will try to stop the momentum of the movement when the balance of power changes and revolutionaries will help bring ever-wider victories.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

I am really appreciating all the comments on this. Here is a quote I found that expresses some of my problems with classic liberalism, classic conservativism, classic revolutionary ideas, or classic anything:
"[It] encourages a closed...view of the world: one with a stop-time notion of history and a we-and-they approach to people, in which _we_ are possessed of truth, virtue, and goodness and _they_ of falsehood, depravity, and evil."

We-and-they has only led to sorrow and pain. The problem with both the right and the left ideologies in this country is that we are stuck with a nostalgic view of the world. For the conservatives, this nostalgia centers around a "traditional family values" idea that never existed. For the left, the nostalgia seems to work with an idea of a perfect Eden, which we [white colonialists] have degraded. Neither of these nostalgic visions ever existed. This is not to say that we shouldn't try and change things; rather, that what we should try to do is look at what we have NOW, and work with it, rather than attempt to reclaim a non-existent past.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

I also think that the "foremost landmark of genocide in the county" is the Lockheed Martin facility.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

Blaize Wilkinson's view of what the left vision is, and who we are [white colonialists], has nothing to do with my vision, nor who the left really is.

First, we are multi-racial.

Second. Opposition to past and present racism and genocide against Native Americans does not equal a program of returning to those primitive communal societies. Socialists understand that population growth has made this impossible and advocate class struggle to achieve the goals of the people against those who rule and see a democratic and socialist society based on human and environmental needs rather than based on capitalist profit as an end goal.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

Good points, Steve. Thanks.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

The Spanish never wanted a Native Holocaust they wanted souls for the Catholic church to build a new community. Anyone who has a problem with the Mission system should leave California. True it was horribly destructive on native populations because of disease but the Mission chain is the reason we have most of our best cities today. Don’t like it! Than Get your hypocritical butts out of the state my family has been living in from the time of the Mexican Revolution. Those who dislike Missions enough to deface them have no right to live in a city who’s historical heart is Mission Santa Cruz.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

The Spanish did not just spread new diseases; they also enslaved natives and carried out purposeful mass murder against them. The Catholic Church did this here in Santa Cruz at the Mission. Ellie, I must tell you to do your homework.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

Yep, I have german double citizenship, and germans are forced to be aware of and deal with their history quite often. Keeping the Missions around is good, but americans really have a lot of work to do to create common awareness about our history, both locally and international interventions.
How many people know about the bounty that was placed for dead indians in California during the gold rush era? I'm 30, but my grandfather was both in 1894 in Nebraska, and they would send myf ather out to a ranch owned by his uncle in a roadless area bordering south dakota during summers. That was 'empty' land shortly after thousands of indians were driven off and killed.
I went to a Mission by Carmel with my mother when she just visited, because while germans have super-low church attendance, europeans are into visiting art museums and historic church buildings on the weekends. We ended up making fun of many aspects of the mission, including an ostentatious wedding, but while that mission had some artefact items to look at where you could supply the historical context by yourself, they could be doing a better job filling in the details of what life was like during the spanish period. Otherwise it become like if a few thousand jewish people were allowed to persist in a reservation ghetto at the end of the nazi period if they won the war and decided to enter into a more moderate period to pacify the population.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

I spent some time at a forced labor camp one weekend. It was a bizarrely pleasant trip.

My daughter, along with all the other fourth graders in California, has to do a report on one of the missions, and build a model out of cardboard and lasagna noodles. Or maybe glue and sugar cubes. She chose Santa Cruz, because she has an older brother who lives there, and doing research gave us an excuse to visit him.

We got there a little before the mission buildings opened on Saturday morning, and after taking a few photographs, and talking to a nice priest, who gave my daughter several pamphlets about the mission, we sat on a bench in front of the museum, watching a large and beautiful family gather in front of the chapel next door for a baptism, welcoming a child into the faith.

The faith that ran the forced labor camp.

In 1812, Costanoan Indians killed one of the padres at this mission. Father Andres Quintana was contemptuous of the native people and cruel. When he announced that he would be using a new metal-tipped whip to punish intransigent laborers, they killed him, then smashed his testicles. It was a particularly grisly death, but not an unusual one:

Many Mission Indians viewed the padres as powerful witches who could only be neutralized by assassination. Consequently, several assassinations occurred. At Mission San Miguel in the year of 1801 three padres were poisoned, one of whom died as a result. Four years later another San Miguel Yokut male attempted to stone a padre to death,

In 1804, a San Diego Padre was poisoned by his personal cook. Costanoan Indians at Mission Santa Cruz, in 1812, killed a padre for introducing a new instrument of torture which he unwisely announced he planned to use on some luckless neophytes awaiting a beating. Few contemporary Americans know of the widespread armed revolts precipitated by Mission Indians against colonial authorities. The Kumeyaay of San Diego launched two serious military assaults against the missionaries and their military escorts within five weeks of their arrival in 1769.

Desperate to stop an ugly pattern of sexual assaults, the Kumeyaay utterly destroyed Mission San Diego and killed the local padre in 1775. Quechan and Mohave Indians along the Colorado River to the east destroyed two missions, killed four missionaries and numerous other colonists in a spectacular uprising in 1781.

A brief reminder that when you take over a country and torture and enslave its people, they usually don't respond by showering you with rose petals. Often they break your balls. Sometimes literally.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

I think that what is being lost in this conversation, but is incredibly apropos, is that the building that was defaced is not the mission. It is a modern-day replica. So the tagger accomplished pretty much only one thing: forced a strapped State Parks office to shell out money to paint over his/her thoughtless action.

There is no symbolism in his/her action. The building was not built by the Catholic Church for enslavement of native peoples. It was built by the "community" (statewide and local) in the relatively recent past to be a learning tool. He/she might as well have just defaced postcards- it would have cost you and me (taxpayers) a lot less.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

This ACTION of public space reclamation and urban improvement is applauded by most progressives and did not cost anyone a dime so you are pretty much alone there buddy. If you try to censor this ACTION of colonial resistance you are only costing yourself that money and costing victims of the Spanish Holocaust the dignity their memory deserves by speaking truth to power to expose this forgotten chapter of white European colonialism. I pity your willful ignorance.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

Hey Smash,

The space is already public. It does not need reclaiming. There is nothing pro-colonization about not approving of attacks on the commons. Furthermore, I would argue that most progressives do not approve of this action. The action was well intended but misguided and will end up costing us all a little bit of money to repair. Your action hurt the people and did not provide anything tangible to anyone. Just consider it, you screwed up. Good initiative, bad judgement.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

"This ACTION of public space reclamation and urban improvement is applauded by most progressives and did not cost anyone a dime so you are pretty much alone there buddy."

The action was supported by most of a minority?
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

Actually, the Mission State Historic Park IS part of the original Mission. The building is not a replica; it was one of the barracks. Later, after secularization, it was a private home for the Neary and Rodriguez families. While it has undergone many changes, including be turned into a Victorian house on the inside, the adobe walls date from the Mission period.

The chapel, on the corner of School and Emmet streets, IS a replica, built in the 1930s.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

Blaize- Thanks for the clarification on the specifics of the park and the buildings. I think I should reiterate my point in light of this more accurate information that the defacer essentially just caused damage to a period building, one not directly connected (in the non-physical sense) to the work of the missionaries. Yes, the building may have housed individuals who were somehow related to the mission, but to stretch that out means that any building that has survived from the mission period is open to destruction because it may have had something to do with the work of the missions.

And as was previously pointed out in this string, we are all beneficiaries, both positive and negative, of the mission period in CA. So simply causing damage to a public building doesn't seem to me to do much more than prove that the actor just needed to let off some steam and chose to do it in a juvenile way. For instance, not that I condone graffiti, if the defacer had painted a mural depicting the native tribes of the Monterey Bay Area (Ohlone, Esselen, etc) I think a positive dialogue would have surfaced. Instead, by just scribbling phrases that appear to be based on high school bathroom graffiti he/she has shown the child-like qualities of their argument.

I have a hunch that the perpetrator is a UCSC student (and before you jump on me, I'm a slug alum myself) who doesn't/didn't realize the history of the facility and the community they were damaging, but wanted to make a point nonetheless. I assume this mostly because people who live in a community and have roots in that community tend to be less likely to then damage a community-owned asset. However, someone who is a transient (albeit long-term and on a hill, as opposed to on Pacific Ave) may not have the same respect for the community that is hosting them, or the assets that belong to that community.

I'm sure I'll be called nazi, catholic murderer sympathizer, etc. I just think that messages can be rendered impotent by the actions of their messangers, as in this case.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

CO says, "I think I should reiterate my point in light of this more accurate information that the defacer essentially just caused damage to a period building, one not directly connected (in the non-physical sense) to the work of the missionaries."

This is incorrect, the building WAS part of the Mission's barracks, it was only later that it was used for other things.
 

Re: Columbus Day vandalism

Steve is right. When I said "barracks" what that means is that the structure most likely housed Ohlone neophytes (converts). One of my favorite quotes from the Mission period in Santa Cruz translates as something like "Do not give the Indians beef, lest evil should result."

When neophytes tried to run away, they were hunted down by the soldiers attached to the Mission, and forceably returned. Super!
 

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