Old Mission Santa Barbara Vandalized

Messages Written in Blood-Colored Paint

Vandals painted graffiti onto the Santa Barbara Mission early Wednesday morning. The paint was soon covered with paper.

Paul Wellman

Vandals painted graffiti onto the Santa Barbara Mission early Wednesday morning. The paint was soon covered with paper.

Red and brown paint resembling blood spattered the old stone walls of Santa Barbara's Mission Wednesday morning, spelling out "rape," "genecide" [sic], and "never forget the lives + land stolen," apparent references to the Spanish conquest of the Americas. Santa Barbara Police were alerted to the vandalism around 4 a.m., said Monica Orozco, the director of the Mission Archive. The window above the doors was busted, paint splattered into the church, and the building's outer walls defaced. The church has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1966 and was founded in 1786 by Spanish Franciscan Padre Fermín Lasuén.

The stonework had been restored a few years back, in part with federal grants, and Orozco stated they would work within the rules to remove the paint. The Mission is a place of worship, she said, as well as a national landmark. "We want to make sure we do this correctly," she said. "It's an important building, not just for us, but for everyone in town."

Orozco said they'd been receiving phone calls of support all morning. "I do appreciate it," she said. "A lot of things happen here, community-oriented things. People have expressed their disappointment, their sadness, and they try to comfort us. We end up comforting them, too."

Last September, vandals also struck the Mission, beheading the statue of Saint Junipero Serra and splashing red paint onto its feet.