Judge Temporarily Blocks Removal of Former Mayor Frank Bogert’s Statue

City News Service

PALM SPRINGS (CNS) – The Friends of Frank Bogert group was granted a
temporary restraining order today to prevent the removal of a controversial
statue of the former mayor located in front of Palm Springs City Hall.

Judge Carol A. Greene’s decision follows a protest on Tuesday by a
local veteran, who sat on the base of the statue and prevented its planned

The city had planned to move the statue and have it stored until
officials could find an appropriate alternate location. Meanwhile, the Friends
of Frank Bogert group pursued the matter in court, leading to Wednesday’s
temporary restraining order.

“The court cited concerns that, during removal, the statue might be
dropped and suffer irreparable injury,” city spokeswoman Denise Goolsby said.

The judge also said the city did not show it would be harmed by any
further delay in removing the artwork.

The Friends group is now pursuing a preliminary injunction it hopes
will keep the statue in place long term. A hearing on that was scheduled for
June 3 at the Riverside Historic Courthouse.

“We respect the decision of the judge,” Mayor Lisa Middleton said in
a statement.

“We remain committed to finding a location for the statue that is not
on the front lawn of City Hall, but that can be supported by a broad
majority of the people of the city of Palm Springs.”

Greene also granted a request — filed by the City Attorney’s office —
for the Friends group to post a $10,000 bond to cover costs of the planned
Tuesday removal that did not come off.

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.

On Tuesday, local veteran Amado Salinas sat on the base of the statue –
– in his uniform — for most of the day to prevent it from being removed.

While acknowledging that some injustices were committed in the past,
Salinas 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.”

Since the removal was approved, the Friends 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 relocate it to a suitable and publicly
accessible site in perpetuity.

Attorney Rod Pacheco — who represents the Friends of Mayor Bogert
group —  appealed the action on Feb. 10. The City Council unanimously voted to
deny the appeal on Feb. 24, and directed staff 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 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 said
“displaced many working-class, Black, Indigenous, and people of color

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.”

Bogert died in 2009.

Copyright 2022, City News Service, Inc.

CNS-05-18-2022 13:57

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