Lone protester prevents statue removal; Friends group vows continued presence until court hearing

The city’s love-hate relationship with statues took another twist on Tuesday when a lone protester refused to move from the base of a statue of a former mayor just as the city was prepping to remove it for storage.

Driving the news: Amado Salinas of Palm Springs, a US Navy veteran who is active in both the local and regional American Legion, sat down at the base of the Frank Bogert statue around 8:15 a.m. and refused to move.

  • Salinas was prepared to wait until a court hearing took place to consider an injunction against the statue’s removal, but other protesters joined in later, allowing him some relief.
  • “This is about the city cancelling out every little thing the residents have stood for,” he told city staff and media who quickly gathered around him. “We just want our day in court.”

About that case: The Friends of Frank Bogert filed a lawsuit against the city last month and an initial hearing is weeks away. The group’s attorney, however, put in for a temporary restraining order against the city moving the statue until that hearing takes place. That request is supposed to be heard Wednesday morning. The attorney was unsuccessful in getting it moved up to Tuesday.

Settling in: A handful of Bogert supporters were on hand late Tuesday evening. They said they would stay “all day and all night.” Palm Springs police said they have no plans to arrest anyone, and city staff appeared to be ready to hold off on removing the statue until the dust settles.

  • Mayor Lisa Middleton: “A group of residents who did not agree with the city’s decision to remove the statue are exercising, peacefully, their First Amendment right to address City Council. We encourage everyone to remain peaceful in this process and to work collaboratively.”

At issue: The Palm Springs City Council voted last year to start the legal process for removing and relocating the monument, first installed in 1990. That decision came at the end of a five-hour virtual joint meeting with the city’s Human Rights Commission attended by more than 130 people.

  • But wait: The Bogert statue isn’t the only one splitting the community. A large figure of actress Marilyn Monroe, currently on display downtown, caused an uproar when it was brought back to town in June 2021.

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