Palm Springs removes statue of former mayor Frank Bogert

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After more than two years of debate and lawsuits, the city of Palm Springs on Wednesday removed the controversial statue of former mayor Frank Bogert in front of City Hall.

“After more than 30 years of Frank Bogert’s statue standing here in front of Palm Springs City Hall, it was removed in less than 90 minutes and now it’s all that’s left of rock and dust”

“It’s disheartening for both parties, but out of that hopefully they can move forward as a community,” said Amado Salinas, a Bogert supporter.

The statue removal process began around 7:40 a.m. and the statue was removed at 8:15 a.m.

Palm Desert-based Art Collective Fine Art Services has been hired to oversee the removal process and transport the statue to the city’s maintenance facility for safe storage until a new location for the statue to be found, according to city officials.

The city originally planned to move the statue on May 17, however, that morning several local residents guarded the statue and physically prevented the move.

A lawyer representing the group “Friends of Frank Bogert” has filed a temporary restraining order to prevent the removal. In early June, a judge ruled in favor of the city to go ahead with the planned move.

Hours before the statue was removed, Bogert supporters raised several American flags.

“It’s not a protest. It’s just an honor for someone we all admire and who we think was wrongfully destroyed,” said Norm King, a Bogert supporter.

King said he knew Bogert personally.

Dozens of other Bogert supporters joined him, including Gene Autry’s wife, Jackie.

“What bothers me most is that five members of the city council did not bother to listen to the people of Palm Springs. Thousands of people received and supported candid letters sent in protest, presented and they don’t care,” said Jackie Autry.

Supporters of the statue’s removal cheered. They say that in the 1950s and 60s, Bogert was part of the forced evictions of hundreds of people from a square mile property block in downtown Palm Springs known as Section 14. Betty Mayfield Taylor is one of the survivors of Section 14.

“He let so much happen in terms of the destruction that was caused, people will see that you’re not glorifying someone like that,” Taylor said. “To see his statue that represents such a negative, to be removed from city property. That’s the full loop for us.”

So what comes next?

A lawyer representing the group “Friends of Frank Bogert” has filed a temporary restraining order to prevent the removal. In early June, a judge ruled in favor of the city to go ahead with the planned move.

Prior to the judge’s final ruling, the Friends of Frank Bogert group held a press conference to propose moving Bogert’s statue to the Village Green in Palm Springs from its current location in front of City Hall. Bogert’s widow, Negie Bogert, said the proposed location made sense – and she hopes to put this painful chapter behind her.

“Now is the time to move the statue,” said Negie Bogert, the widow of Mayor Frank Bogert. “Unfortunately, by continuing to drag residents into this fight, our leaders risk tearing this city apart further.”

Who is Frank Bogert and what is the controversy surrounding his statue?

Bogert was one of Palm Springs’ most famous cowboys and a major figure in the city’s history. He served as the city’s mayor from 1958 to 1966. He returned for a second term as the city’s first direct mayor from 1982 to 1988.

Bogert died in 2009 at the age of 99.

For nearly two years, Bogert was the subject of controversy with public outcry to have his statue removed following accusations that he was part of the removal of hundreds of people from a property block in a square mile in downtown Palm Springs. like section 14.

From 1954 to 1966, approximately 200 structures were demolished and burned. The actions displaced hundreds of low-income residents and people of color to make way for hotels and tourism. The city had no plan to relocate residents, forcing many of them to relocate to the northern part of town and throughout the county.

Check Out: City of Palm Springs Historical Background Statement and Survey Results

The demolition of Section 14 was described in a subsequent California Department of Justice report as “a city-engineered holocaust.”

In April 2021, the Palm Springs Commission on Human Rights voted to recommend that the city council remove the statue from city hall. In September, the city council voted to begin the process of removing the statue and issuing an apology for the city government’s role in the destruction of Section 14.

The process of removing the statue was lengthy, as City Hall is a Class 1 (landmark) historic resource.

On February 1, 2022, the city’s Historic Landmarks Preservation Board (HSPB) voted 4 to 2 (with 1 abstention) to approve a Certificate of Opportunity for the removal of the statue. The council added a strong recommendation to the city council to ensure the statue is moved to a suitable site accessible to the public in perpetuity.

A few days after the council’s decision, attorney Rod Pacheco appealed the decision on behalf of his client, the group “Friend of Mayor Frank Bogert”. The group pleaded for the statue to remain where it is. Frank Bogert’s widow, Negie Bogert, said the campaign to move a statue of her husband was full of slander and lies.

“I don’t think he was perfect, but he was by no means what they portray him to be,” Negie told News Channel 3’s Jake Ingrassia in September 2021.

The call was divided into three categories:

  • The City did not follow the municipal code by approving the certificate of compliance;
  • The appellant’s assertion that the issuance of the certificate of competency
    violates the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”); and
  • The appellant’s assertion that federal and state laws regarding the visual arts
    the display bars of the proposed City action.

Check out the full call here

On February 24, the city council voted unanimously to dismiss the appeal and upheld the HSPB’s decision.

Council members asked staff to work with stakeholders to identify a suitable location, not on city property, for Bogert’s statue within 60 days. If no other location was found, the Bogert statue would be removed for safe storage until a new home was found.

City officials said the council authorized City Attorney Jeff Ballinger to reach an agreement to extend the statute of limitations by 30 days, but the Friends of Mayor Frank Bogert group did not seek such an extension. . As a result, during this time, City staff made arrangements for the removal of the statue, in accordance with City Council’s February 24 decision.

On Friday, Pacheco filed for a temporary restraining order to prevent the statue from being removed, city officials said.

Despite plans to remove the statue on Tuesday, a hearing on that motion is scheduled for Wednesday.

“The city has been and remains willing to work with the group to find a suitable location to place the statue. It will be stored safely until a new location is determined,” reads a notice from officials. of the city of Palm Springs.

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