The Archbishop of San Francisco has criticised the pulling down of a Saint's monument, claiming that the country's racism protests have been "hijacked" by "violence, looting and vandalism".
A statue of Catholic missionary St. Junipero Serra was toppled from its post in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco on Friday, along with statues of Francis Scott Key and Ulysses S. Grant.
Responding to the incident, Salvatore Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco said it was another example of a shift in the current protest movement: "A renewed national movement to heal memories and correct the injustices of racism and police brutality in our country has been hijacked by some into a movement of violence, looting and vandalism."
The 18th Century Saint founded nine Catholic missions across California and is credited with converting thousands to Christianity in the Western United States. Some have declared Serra a symbol of European colonialism and claim his missions engaged in the forced labour of Native Americans.
Serra was canonised by Pope Francis in September 2015.
The archbishop clarified that "all those who work for justice and equality join in the outrage of those who have been and continue to be oppressed" but stated "the memorialisation of historic figures merits an honest and fair discussion as to how and to whom such honour should be given.
He added: "But here, there was no such rational discussion; it was mob rule, a troubling phenomenon that seems to be repeating itself throughout the country."