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Judge rules in favor of removing Bogert statue from outside Palm Springs City Hall

Update: Friday June 3

A judge has ruled that her tentative ruling stands, denying a petition from the Friend's of Frank Bogert to stop the removal of the former mayor's controversial statue.

Today's hearing, which lasted about 30 minutes, comes after a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order was dissolved.

The Friends of Frank Bogert attorney, Rod Pachecho, had wanted the court to wait until the full hearing on the statue could happen, which would be about 90 days, according to Pacheco. 

He said the statue has been in front of city hall for over 30 years and that the court could wait another 90 days before allowing the city to remove the statue. 

Thursday June 2

The battle continues over the relocation of the controversial statue of former Mayor Frank Bogert statue from in front of city hall.

A tentative ruling obtained by News Channel 3 is in the city's favor, showing the court denying the Friends of Frank Bogert's request to continue halting the statue's removal and ending that previously issued temporary order.

"We are hopeful that the court will stick to its tentative ruling, so that the City can proceed with the statue’s removal from City Hall," said Palm Springs City Attorney Jeffrey Ballinger in a statement to News Channel 3.

The statue was originally set to be removed from the front of city hall two weeks ago, however on the morning of the planned removal, several local residents guarded the statue and physically prevented the city from putting the statue into storage.

An attorney representing the group "The Friends of Frank Bogert" filed a temporary restraining order and a judge ruled that the statue should not be moved from its location in front of City Hall until the case can be heard further.

The injunction protecting the statute was set to expire on Friday.

On Thursday, The Friends of Frank Bogert group held a press conference to propose relocating Bogert's Statue to the Village Green in Palm Springs from its current location in front of city hall.

Bogert's widow, Negie Bogert, said the proposed location is logical – and she hopes to put this painful chapter behind her.

“The time has come to relocate the statue,” said Negie Bogert, the widow of Mayor Frank Bogert. “Sadly, by continuing to drag residents through this fight, our leaders risk further tearing this city apart.”

Who is Frank Bogert and what's the controversy over his statue?

Bogert was one of Palm Springs' most famous cowboys and a major figure in the city's history. He served as the city's mayor from 1958 to 1966. He returned for a second term as the city's first-ever directly mayor from 1982 to 1988.

Bogert died in 2009 at the age of 99.

For nearly two years, Bogert has been the subject of controversy with public outcry for his statue to be removed following accusations that he was part of the removal of hundreds of people from a one-square-mile block of property in downtown Palm Springs referred to as Section 14.

From 1954 to 1966 about 200 structures were demolished and burned. The actions displaced hundreds of low-income residents and people of color to make room for hotels and further tourism. The city did not have a plan to relocate the residents, forcing many of them to move to the north part of town and throughout the county.

Check Out: City of Palm Springs Citywide Historic Context Statement & Survey Findings

The demolition of Section 14 was described in a later California Department of Justice report as "a city engineered holocaust."

In April 2021, the Palm Springs Human Rights Commission voted to recommend the city council remove the statue from city hall. In Sept., the City Council voted to begin the process to remove the statue and issue an apology for the city government's role in the destruction of Section 14.

The process to remove the statue was a lengthy process, as city hall is a Class 1 (Landmark) historic resource.

On February 1, 2022, the City’s Historic Site Preservation Board (HSPB) voted 4-2 (with 1 abstention) to approve a certificate of appropriateness for the removal of the statue. The board added a strong recommendation that the City Council ensure relocation of the statue to a suitable, publicly accessible site in perpetuity.

Days after the board's decision, attorney Rod Pacheco filed an appeal of the decision on behalf of his client, the group "The Friend of Mayor Frank Bogert." The group advocated for keeping the statue where it is. Frank Bogert's widow, Negie Bogert, said the campaign to move a statue of her husband is full of slander and lies.

"I don't think that he was perfect but he was not by any means what they portray him as being," Negie told News Channel 3's Jake Ingrassia in Sept. 2021.

The appeal was broken down into three categories:

  • The City did not follow the municipal code in approving the Certificate of Appropriateness;
  • Appellant’s assertion that the issuance of the Certificate of Appropriateness
    violates the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”); and
  • Appellant’s assertion that federal and state laws regarding visual art on public
    display bars the proposed City action.

Check out the full appeal here

On Feb. 24, the city council unanimously voted to deny the appeal and upheld the HSPB's decision.

Councilmembers directed staff to work stakeholders to identify an appropriate location, not on City property, for the Bogert statue within 60 days. If no alternative location was found, the Bogert statue would be removed to secure storage until a new home is found.

City officials said the council authorized City Attorney Jeff Ballinger to enter into an agreement to extend the statute of limitations by 30 days, but the Friends of Mayor Frank Bogert group did not request any such extension. As a result, during that time, City staff made arrangements for the removal of the statue, in accordance with the City Council’s February 24 decision.

On Friday, Pacheco filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to prevent the removal of the statue, city officials said.

Despite plans to remove the statue on Tuesday, a hearing on that motion is scheduled for Wednesday.

"The City has been, and remains, willing to work with the group to find an appropriate location to place the statue. It will be safely stored until a new location has been determined," reads a notice by Palm Springs city officials.

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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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