Another bell, installed in Mission Park Plaza in 1999, was stolen during a June 11 protest.
Hundreds of mission bell replicas have been installed over the years along the historic “El Camino Real,” which today roughly follows the route of Highway 101.
According to the California missions’ website, the original mission church, whose bell tower collapsed in 1840, contained nine or ten bells, none of which have survived. The current mission bell tower also contains a replica bell.
During the years that the missions were active, the bells were mainly used to wake the Franciscan friars for their daily prayers.
The decision whether to remove the final bell will come down to the Santa Cruz city council. Eliot, the parks and recreation director, suggested the bell could be moved to a museum and replaced with a historical marker that contextualizes the history of the area.
Statues of the saint have this year become focal points for protests and demonstrations across California, with images of the saint being torn down or vandalized in protest of California’s colonial past. Nationally, rioters have targeted Catholic churches and statues of Christ and Mary.
A Oct. 12 protest at Mission San Rafael Arcangel began peacefully but then turned violent, as participants defaced another St. Junipero Serra statue with red paint before dragging it to the ground with nylon straps and ropes. The local district attorney ultimately charged five individuals with felony vandalism in connection with the incident.
A statue of Serra was torn down in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, June 19 by a crowd of about 100 people, and on the same day a statue of the saint was torn down in Los Angeles.
Rioters pulled down and defaced a statue of Serra in Sacramento on July 4.
Some California institutions, such as the University of San Diego, have put their statues of Serra in storage to protect them.
On July 11, a fire being investigated for arson gutted the 249-year-old Mission San Gabriel in Los Angeles, a mission church founded by St. Serra.