SAN ANTONIO – In a call to protect and preserve history, U.S. Congressmen have sent a letter to National Park Services asking them to keep the missions safe and damage-free.
The call comes after non-profits that help care for the missions say there has been an uptick in vandalism.
“When someone puts a knife through it or cuts through it, they’re cutting into our heritage,” said Rebecca Simmons, Executive Director of Las Missiones.
Simmons told KSAT she has seen the unfortunate trend of vandalism at the Missions rise over the past few years.
“Throwing red paint on the convent over at San Jose, trying to break through doors, Mission San Juan where they broke the latch off the door, Breaking Glass at the rose window over at San Jose,” said Simmons.
Simmons said the repairs for the damages are not simple or cheap, adding that whenever work is done, it must preserve the structure’s history.
“Jim Bowie stood up there on the top of Mission Concepcion for the battle of Concepcion; there is original plaster on that building,” said Simmons.
Cristóbal Lopez, Texas Field Representative for the National Parks Conservation Association, and Simmons said the vandalism varies from small to big but has become more consistent.
One of the most recent and significant incidents happened this summer at Missions San Jose when its historic rose window was broken.
When asked if they believed the Missions were being targeted, Lopez said he didn’t know.
Simmons went on to share details on what happened when they got into the grounds.
“Sometimes they want to get in, and they get in, and nothing happens. Sometimes they carve initials, and sometimes they break things,” said Simmons.
Both Simmons and Lopez took their concerns to U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro. Castro then partnered with fellow congressman Henry Cuellar and Greg Casar to write a letter to the National Park Services, stating, “Create a plan to ensure our Missions remain safe and damage-free. We are worried that without proper protection and security, the San Antonio Missions may not survive another 300 years.”
“The park staff here at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park does an incredible job, given the resources that they have. If we can get the park service more funding, then they’re able to expand the resources to be able to further protect,” said Lopez.
Read the full letter to the National Park Services below,