Several statues were knocked over or vandalized in Golden Gate Park on Friday June 19, 2020. (Photo courtesy Pankaj Prasad)

Protesters topple statues of Junipero Serra, Francis Scott Key, Ulysses S. Grant

At the tail end of a day of protests and rallies celebrating the Juneteenth holiday and calling for an end to police brutality, a group of up to 200 people knocked over statues of Father Junipero Serra, Ulysses S. Grant and Francis Scott Key and vandalized others in Golden Gate Park.

The crowd gathered around 8 p.m. Friday at the north end of the park’s Music Concourse, where a number of statues are located.

In addition to the three statues that were toppled, others including one of Cervantes and Don Quixote were spray painted, as were benches, a fountain and park drinking fountains and pathways. A cost estimate of the damage is expected to be released Monday.

Police allege that protesters threw objects at officers on the scene during the incident, before dispersing around 9:30 p.m. No arrests were made and no injuries were reported.

Mayor London Breed said that in response to the attack on the statues she had asked the Arts Commission, the Human Rights Commission and the Recreation and Parks Department and Commission to work with the community to evaluate public art with connections to racist history.

“There is very real pain in this country rooted in our history of slavery and oppression, especially against African-Americans and Indigenous people. I know that pain all too well,” Breed said in a statement. “But the damage done to our park last night went far beyond just the statues that were torn down, and included significant damage to Golden Gate Park.

“Every dollar we spend cleaning up this vandalism takes funding away from actually supporting our community, including our African-American community,” she continued. “I say this not to defend any particular statue or what it represents, but to recognize that when people take action in the name of my community, they should actually involve us. And when they vandalize our public parks, that’s their agenda, not ours.”

The action against the statues follows the removal on Thursday of a statue of Christopher Columbus at Coit Tower that city officials feared would become the target of protesters.

The statues were removed by cleanup crews overnight and Recreation and Parks Department officials said the Music Concourse would remain closed Saturday for cleanup and repairs.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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Several statues were knocked over or vandalized in Golden Gate Park on Friday June 19, 2020, including this statue of fictional character Don Quixote and Spanish novelist Miguel Cervantes. (Photo courtesy Pankaj Prasad)

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