A cross atop a hiking trail at Mount Rubidoux near downtown Riverside was vandalized Friday evening, officials said Saturday.
The cross was erected in 1907 to honor Junipero Serra, according to The Press-Enterprise. Serra was an 18th century priest who founded missions across California, a system that forced Native Americans to covert to Catholicism.
Police officers and a helicopter responded to reports of vandalism to the cross atop Mount Rubidoux, located in the 4700 block of Mount Rubidoux Drive, around 9:00 p.m., the city of Riverside said.
Callers said three to four men were using an axe and spray paint to damage the cross, according to the city. The vandalism consisted of graffiti in red spray paint that read, “500 YRS 2020 Revolt,” “500 YOUR ON NATIVE LAND” and “Serra was A Pedophile Murdered,” photos from authorities show.
A portion of the outer shell of the cross was also broken near its base, officials said.
Police said they conducted a search for those responsible, who had already fled down the opposite side of the mountain.
The men, described to be Native American and in their 20s, possibly got away in a light-colored sedan, officials said.
An investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to contact officials at 951-353-7100. Those who wish to remain anonymous can email firstname.lastname@example.org.