Palm Springs, CA

Future of Bogert statue up for discussion, possible vote at end of month

The Palm Springs Post

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The possible removal of a statue of former Palm Springs Mayor Frank Bogert from the front of City Hall is expected to be addressed Sept. 29.The Palm Springs Post

The Palm Springs City Council plans to hold a joint meeting with the city’s Human Rights Commission on September 29 to discuss a proposal to remove the statue of former Mayor Frank Bogert in front of City Hall, and the public is invited to weigh in.

The meeting, scheduled via Zoom at 5:30 PM, could see heated debate and culminate with a final vote on the proposal after years of discussion over whether it was right to honor Bogert, an actor who served as mayor twice, including during one of the ugliest periods in city history in the late 1950s through the mid-1960s. 

During that period, residents who were Black, indigenous, and other people of color were forced out of their homes in a one-square-mile section of tribal-owned land downtown — known as Section 14 — when white business owners sought to develop the property following the 1959 Indian Leasing Act.

In April, the Human Rights Commission passed its recommendation to remove the statue to the City Council by a 5-1 vote. City leaders are also considering issuing a formal apology for the events at Section 14 and plan to discuss the apology at the September 29 meeting.

The proposal to remove Bogert’s statue touched off a wave of both praise and criticism throughout the community. Those in favor say removing the statue, installed in 1990, would recognize the trauma and loss of generational wealth that communities of color experienced both during the time Bogert served and since. Critics of the removal say Bogert is being maligned and that his legacy is one of charity and compassion.

Among the critics of the removal is a group formed last month to combat what they said is misinformation about Bogert. They released an 85-page rebuttal to the findings laid out by the Human Rights Commission.

“We are dismayed and shocked at the false and slanderous things being said about Frank, a lifelong champion for others in Palm Springs,” said Negie Bogert, the former mayor’s widow and member of Friends of Frank Bogert. “The record is very clear through public records, numerous news articles, and first-hand accounts which demonstrate my husband as serving all in Palm Springs.”

Residents who wish to speak at the meeting may submit their comments to the Office of the City Clerk prior to the meeting no later than 5 PM. The phone number is 760-323-8204. At the appropriate time, a staff member will call members of the public to provide testimony.

Written comments may be submitted to the City Council by emailing cityclerk@palmspringsca.gov. Correspondence received during or after the meeting will be distributed to the City Council and retained for the official record.

Residents can watch the Council meeting live online at www.palmspringsca.gov, on the city’s YouTube channel, or Palm Springs Community Television Channel 17.

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