A national call to remove controversial monuments has now reached Palm Springs as a petition to get rid of Frank Bogert’s state gains traction.
“I think a lot of Palm Springs residents don’t know the history of Frank Bogert and city council in the 60’s. I started this petition so that everybody feels like this is their city,” said David Weiner, a Palm Springs resident and creator of the petition.
Weiner says while Bogert accomplished a lot for the area, the community can’t gloss over the section 14 incident.
Bogert was instrumental in the development of Palm Springs and worked as the city’s first chamber of commerce manager in 1939.
He also was elected to his first term as mayor in 1958, lasting until 1966.
During that time, the parcel of land known as section 14 was the center of controversy after the secretary of the interior equalized allotted Indian land.
Following that decision, the area, which was primarily home to minorities and the Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indians, was taken over by the city, forcing residents to outskirt communities.
Palm Springs Historian Renee Brown says the blame can’t be placed on just one person, adding that removing the statue would be purely symbolic.
“I think we are missing a teaching moment. By tearing things down, we’re not explaining, we’re not educating. It’s not like you can tear something down and the history goes away, it’s still there,” said Renee Brown with the Palm Springs Historical Society.
The Dean of the college of social and behavioral sciences at Cal State San Bernadino says this issue should involve community discussion.
“It behooves us to involve the community as best we can in any of these conversations, because simply to remove it without offering context as to why its removed and without allow people to share their views just brings resentment,” said Dean Rafik Mohamed.
But Mohamed also says the decision may not always be made by the majority.
“If the presence of that person or that statue or monument is antithetical to who we say we are as people, than I do think that, in spite of what a majority of community members might say, it’s still rational to have that statue removed or relocated,” said Mohamed.
Weiner plans to bring his signatures and petition to Palm Springs city council over the next week to add the item to a future agenda.