The on-again, off-again debate over a statue of a former mayor outside Palm Springs City Hall appears to have reached the next stop along a long and winding trail.
Driving the news: On Tuesday, a Riverside County Superior Court judge agreed with the city that there is no basis for a lawsuit brought by The Friends of Frank Bogert to move forward.
- The group sought to prevent the removal of the statue of former Mayor Frank Bogert on horseback as it argued its case against the removal in court. But in July, the city was allowed to go ahead and truck the statue off to an uncertain future.
Looking back: A crew from Palm Desert-based Art Collective removed the Frank Bogert statue from its base on July 13 and took it to a city storage facility. The removal brought a dramatic conclusion to more than a year of heated public debate and multiple votes on the matter by both elected and appointed officials.
- The debate around Bogert centers around his involvement in the forced evictions of residents of Section 14 during the 1950s and 1960s.
Behind the scenes: For 15 months, a deep divide revealed itself in the city, playing out at meetings, in the press, and on social media.
- On one side are longtime residents afraid history is being erased and Bogert’s reputation is being harmed; on the other is a progressive City Council and like-minded appointed leaders trying to make amends for some of that history.
Next steps: The Friends group is in a unique situation in that its members both slammed city officials in public and in court in an effort to prevent the removal, but are also hoping to work with the city to find a new home for the statue. To date, there has been no new home secured.
- In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, the group said that while it’s disappointed in the judge’s decision it plans to focus for now on relocating the statue to Village Green along Palm Canyon Drive.
- “The handling of this matter by both the City Council and the Human Rights Commission is still deeply disturbing since the record regarding Mayor Frank Bogert is full of misinformation, lies, and manipulated writing by others,” representatives of the group wrote. “Sometimes the process that cities follow shed more light on an issue than the actual decision.”