PEORIA (WEEK) — A statue of Jesus Christ that was erected to create a safe space for families who have lost loved ones to violence was vandalized, a decision that broke the hearts of community members.
“Anybody who had lost a loved one to violence that they could memorialize a brick [at the park] with their name on it. It would also be a gathering for the community for prayer and reflection on where we need to go as a community and a society,” Pierre Serafin said.
“Many families who lose a loved one to violence can’t afford to put a tombstone up so how much better to memorialize them than a reflection and the good lord is looking over them.”
Serafin, the owner of UFS Downtown Outlet Center, and his partner decided to put the 10-feet tall statue of Christ on the lot they own and name the park Serenity Memorial Park. The pair spent $15,000 to buy the statue and put it up just six months ago.
For those who have devoted their lives to their faith like Linda Drake, who pastored a church in Peoria with her husband for decades, the news was more than heartbreaking.
“They just chopped it right up and that’s really hard to take to see something an icon that you love, the lord, to be defaced like that. To have this happen its kind of like a slap in their face,” Drake said.
For Kelly Petersen, a lifelong Peoria resident who felt compelled to see the statue firsthand on Tuesday, the damage is ironic even calling the act of vandalism “crucifying Jesus in 2019.”
“For at least a moment you’re thinking about our Lord Jesus Christ and that I think that brings a lot of peace. It really goes to say the state of our city and where a few lost souls are running loose yet,” he said.
Serafin said that within the next few days he will be adding another scripture to the park that will read “forgive them, father, for they know not what they’ve done.”