Hundreds of people are signing a petition to remove the statue of Frank Bogert in Palm Springs.
News Channel 3's Caitlin Thropay spoke to the creator of the petition as well as the Palm Springs Historical Society and a friend of Bogert to hear their thoughts.
Frank Bogert is known as one of Palm Spring's most famous cowboys. He served as the city's mayor from 1958 to 1966. He was elected a second time, serving again as mayor from 1982 to 1988.
Right now, there’s a petition going around to remove his statue in front of Palm Springs City Hall. The statue was purchased by individual donations and put in place in 1990.
“We’re still celebrating or honoring a man who I hate to say was instrumental in what happened in section 14,” David Weiner, the creator of the petition to remove the statue told News Channel 3.
Weiner has called Palm Springs home for 16 years and said now is the time to remove it.
His petition has almost 1,000 signatures.
According to the Palm Springs Historical Society, Bogert was mayor during the “slum clearing” of section 14 at the end of a ten-year process to make way for new hotels and further tourism. This was an area where many low-income and people of color were living at the time.
“There were some people who went to school in the morning and when they came home their houses were gone,” Palm Springs Historical Society’s associate curator, Renee Brown told News Channel 3.
“He was one of the conservators that was signing on the orders for certain houses to be demolished and so I don’t think there’s a place in front of city hall for that type of commemoration anymore,” Weiner said.
Brown believes many people prospered from the new development made possible by the clearing of section 14.
“It was a horrible way to do it, but it was not one man who was responsible for it,” Brown said. "I hate for him [Bogert] to be known for one thing because he was responsible for so much in the city of Palm Springs. He blazed the way for all of those wonderful hiking trails through the mountains on his own horse," she added.
Brown and Weiner plan to speak on this issue during public comment at the next city council meeting.
"I think the thing that people have to remember is as mayor he only had one voice, one vote, just like every other councilman who sat on the city council at that time," Brown said.
“We can’t change what happened 60 years ago but we can acknowledge it and talk about it and hopefully do better," Weiner said.
Jack Jones, a longtime valley resident and friend of Bogert spoke with News Channel 3 after hearing about the petition.
“I always looked at Frank Bogert as the father of our town," Jones said. “This is a guy who was a friend of mine. I was a little boy when I met him,” Jones said.
Jones warns people to be aware of what they are signing.
“Don’t just sign something that’s destructive just because a man was trying to do something really good for this town,” Jones added.
Jones spoke with Bogert’s daughter and shared how this is impacting the Bogert family.
“She’s sick over it and she says it is disgusting,” Jones said.
"His [Bogert] statue is not just a commemoration of his history in Palm Springs but it is a commemoration of our western heritage," Brown said. “Instead of doing something symbolically that doesn’t change a thing, why not do something that does make our community better, why not really atone,” she added.