The City of Palm Springs voted Wednesday night to move forward with an apology for the city government's role in the destruction of Section 14 more than 50 years ago. City leaders are also in favor of moving the monument in front of city hall of Palm Springs' first directly elected mayor, Frank Bogert, after concerns about his involvement.
A special meeting was held on Zoom with the Palm Springs city council and the city's Human Rights Commission. For hours, dozens of community members sounded off on the issues from both sides.
City council ultimately moved toward making a monetary contribution to those displaced from Section 14, and to start the legal process of removing the Frank Bogert statue from city property.
"City of Palm Springs staff drove bulldozers through peoples homes," said Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Middleton. "We cannot erase our role in what happened."
Some Palm Springs residents with family whose homes were destroyed called for the statue to be removed – even requesting reparations. Deiter Crawford's grandmother lived in Section 14.
"I believe apologies are long overdue and should have been done years ago," Crawford said. "The statue being moved and apologies are just symbolic. I want to see reparations in addition"
Steve Gire lived in Palm Springs when Bogert was mayor. He recalled his experiences at the time, "I endured the bigotry, the racism; it was a hallmark of this town during (Bogert's) reign," Gire said. "Those homes being torched, people being pulled out in the dead of night with no warning because their color and their economic status didn't fit the new Palm Springs."
Many of the speakers offered positive remarks on the ex-mayor.
"I think it's a beautiful statue, a work of art," said Carla Harrower. "It represents a World War II veteran, a cowboy, a family man, and it deserves to stand."
City council discussed how best to move forward.
"I support the city providing financial support to those impacted by these past city actions," Council Member Geoff Kors said.
City council voted in favor of moving forward with a resolution to issue an official apology for Section 14. City staff was also directed to start the legal process for removing the Bogert statue from city hall, which will involve several more steps. And city staff was asked to bring back budget proposals for reparations to be paid to those displaced for Section 14 – those are expected to be brought back to council in the next two moths.