El Soldado, the dilapidated memorial to Latino soldiers across from California’s Capitol, has a new injury.
The California Highway Patrol is investigating what appears to be an act of vandalism against the 64-year-old statue – the tip of soldier’s rifle was broken off and discovered on July 9. Sgt. Steve White said a report has not been completed and that there are not any leads, witnesses, or video footage of the incident.
Steve Ybarra, a retired attorney and former deputy secretary of the California Health and Welfare Agency, believes that the vandalism is a hate crime directed at Latinos and immigration policy. He said the tip of the gun is being repaired by a stone mason.
White said that the CHP has no reason to support the theory that the vandalism was provoked by tensions over race or immigration issues.
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Benefactors of the Mexican-American Veterans Memorial – known as El Soldado – have been seeking funds to rehabilitate the memorial for years. The statue honors Latinos who served in the armed services and was constructed in 1951 by the fund-raising efforts of Mexican-American women who raised money through church raffles and sales of homemade tamales.
Ybarra said that the funding for building a garden around the statue has already been collected. A year ago, the memorial committee accepted a $50,000 donation from Wells Fargo for rehabilitation.
Catherine Douglas Moran: 916-321-1202