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Palm Springs culture enthusiasts grapple with ‘Forever Marilyn,’ Frank Bogert statue controversies

In a city known for its art and culture, two Palm Springs statues are facing scrutiny: the 26-foot-tall 'Forever Marilyn,' and a memorial of Palm Springs' first elected mayor.

"Forever Marilyn," which once stood dozens of feet in the air in downtown Palm Springs was still in New Jersey Tuesday. A committee for the statue's relocation to outside the Palm Springs Art Museum could decide on when Marilyn will return by the end of this week.

This after a judge shot down a lawsuit against Marilyn's return last week.

Opponents say the statue is misogynistic and unnecessarily sexual.

Those in favor say Marilyn benefits tourism and are looking forward to having the iconic symbol back.

"It was neat here; it drew a neat crowd and got people down here," Tammy Williams said.

Some art enthusiasts say the debate is the point. "How do you explain a piece of art that connects to the past today," Scott Talan said. "And there's an opportunity there."

Meantime, the statue of Frank Bogert outside Palm Springs City Hall is being called into question too.

It memorializes Palm Springs' most famous cowboy, and first mayor. Bogert served when the city destroyed Section 14, demolishing hundreds of homes and displacing the majority of the city's people of color.

Tuesday, the Palm Springs Human Rights Commission recommended the statue's removal within 90 days, hoping to separate the city form past "racism and its continuing impacts."

Talan said he's wondering what the right move is. "It's a tough question: is it better to remove something, or to explain something," he said. "I think there's a role for education and explaining what he did, why it fit that time, and why it's wrong today – so people learn."

Former Palm Springs Mayor Ron Oden knew Bogert personally. But he said the statue may not belong there.

"We don't want to glorify things that we know never should have happened," Oden said. "And, you know, maybe it just doesn't need to go in front of City Hall."

The city's Human Rights Commission will now forward their resolution to city council, though it is not yet known when it's set to be discussed.

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.

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