Protest - Photo courtesy of Unsplash

A protest by a local veteran was halting Tuesday’s planned removal of the statue of former Mayor Frank Bogert located in front of Palm Springs City Hall.

With a hearing set for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday on a request for a temporary restraining order to prevent the removal of the statue, officials had planned to move it Tuesday and have it safely stored until city officials find an appropriate alternate location.

The Palm Springs City Council unanimously voted to begin the process of removal on Sept. 29, 2021 following a resolution issued by the Palm Springs Human Rights Commission recommending that the statue be removed. The commission said the statue was perceived as an “offensive and painful public reminder” of what it called systemic racism during Bogert’s mayoral leadership from 1958-66.

Amado Salinas sat on the base of the statue in his uniform on Tuesday to prevent it from being removed. While acknowledging that some injustices were committed in the past, Salinas also told the Desert Sun that Bogert once stopped to help his family when they had a flat tire in the desert.

“They are pitching old things to (divide) us,” Salinas said. “We need to unite as a city.”

City Attorney Jeffrey Ballinger told KESQ that officials had no plans to remove Salinas by force.

“It’s pretty routine action to move this,” Ballinger said. “And so, the city doesn’t think it needs to be publicized or politicized at this point.”

Attorney Rod Pacheco — who represents the Friends of Mayor Bogert group — filed a motion hearing for a temporary restraining order to prevent the removal of the statue. Since the removal was approved, the group has lobbied the city’s Historic Site Preservation Board to stop the removal.

The HSPB approved a certificate of appropriateness on Feb. 1 for the removal, recommending that the city council relocate it to a suitable and publicly accessible site in perpetuity. Pacheco appealed the action on Feb. 10. The city council unanimously voted to deny the appeal on Feb. 24, and directed staff to work with stakeholders to find an appropriate location or place the statue in storage within 60 days.

City staff made arrangements for the removal and signed a contract with The Art Collective — a Palm Desert-based fine art services company — on May 3.

Last September’s resolution by the city’s Human Rights Commission stated 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.”

Negie Bogert, Bogert’s widow and member of “Friends of Frank Bogert,” explained why she is against 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.”

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