The Palm Springs City Council will hold a joint meeting with the city’s Human Rights Commission Wednesday to consider the commission’s proposed removal of the Frank Bogert statue in front of City Hall and an official apology for the forced evictions of low-income people of color decades ago.
The proposal to remove the former mayor’s statue revolves around the history of evictions in a one-square-mile block of property in downtown Palm Springs referred to as Section 14.
In the commission’s proposed resolution, Section 14 is described as a primary residential area for people of color owned by the Aqua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians from 1930 to 1965. The evictions began in late 1954 and continued for 12 years through 1966.
Bogert became mayor of the city in 1958 and served until 1966. He was elected once again in 1982 and served until 1988.
The resolution to remove the Bogert statue states that “Mayor Bogert and Palm Springs civic leaders persecuted their lower-income constituents who resided on the land owned by local Tribal Members. Attempting to dispossess the Indians of their tribal lands, and erase any blighted neighborhoods that might degrade the city’s resort image, Palm Springs officials developed and implemented a plan that included having non-Indian conservators appointed by a local judge to manage the Indians land claiming they were unable to manage it for themselves. The successful implementation of this plan resulted in the removal of the city’s people of color and restructured the race and class configuration of the city.”
The commission specifically referred to the city-backed destruction of about 200 dwellings in Section 14 from 1965-66, which the commission states “displaced many working-class, Black, Indigenous, and people of color families.”
The commission said “The Frank Bogert Monument which stands in front of City Hall is a hurtful symbol of systemic racism and the significance of being the only monument at City Hall makes this symbolism even more hurtful.”
Negie Bogert, widow of the late mayor and member of “Friends of Frank Bogert,” a group opposed to the decision to remove the statue, expressed her opposition to the resolution.
“I don’t think that he was perfect but he was not by any means what they portray him as being,” Bogert told KESQ. “For them to say my husband is racist, it could not be any further from the truth.”
The group has been running TV commercials in the area denouncing the resolution.
If approved, the cost to remove the Bogert monument is approximately $6,000 to $11,000, with the option of relocating the monument to an alternate location being approximately $12,000 to $22,000, according to the City Council’s meeting agenda.
The proposed apology by the commission would recognize the city’s role in the evictions of Section 14 and serve as a permanent reminder of the damage caused to marginalized communities, according to the commission.
Residents who want to make public comments at the meeting can submit their comments to the city clerk by 5 p.m. Wednesday by calling 760-323-8204. A staff member will then call those members of the public during the meeting so they can provide comments.
The special meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday via Zoom and is open to public comment prior to the vote. The meeting can be watched online at www.palmspringsca.gov.