The city of Palm Springs voted Wednesday night to move forward with an apology for the city government’s role in destroying Section 14 more than 50 years ago. City leaders are also in favor of moving the monument to Palm Springs first mayor Frank Bogert’s city hall 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 spoke out about the issues on both sides.
The city council eventually decided to make a monetary contribution to the IDPs in Section 14 and begin the legal process to remove the Frank Bogert statue from city property.
“City of Palm Springs staff drove bulldozers into people’s homes,” Pro Tem Mayor Lisa Middleton said. “We cannot erase our role in what happened.”
Some Palm Springs residents with families whose homes were destroyed have called for the statue to be removed – even asking for repairs. Deiter Crawford’s grandmother lived in Section 14.
“I think the apology is long overdue and should have been made years ago,” Crawford said. “The statue is moved and the apologies are only symbolic. I want to see more repairs.”
Steve Gire lived in Palm Springs when Bogert was mayor. He recalled his experiences at the time: “I endured bigotry, racism; that was a feature of this city during (Bogert’s) reign,” Gire said. “These houses were set on fire, people were pulled out in the middle of the night without warning because their color and economic status did not match the new Palm Springs.”
Many speakers made positive comments about the former mayor.
“I think it’s a beautiful statue, a work of art,” said Carla Harrower. “He represents a WWII veteran, a cowboy, a father, and he deserves to stand up.”
The city council discussed the best way to move forward.
“I support the city by providing financial support to those affected by these past actions of the city,” said council member Geoff Kors.
The city council voted to pass a resolution to formally apologize for section 14. City staff were also ordered to begin the legal process to remove the statue of Bogert from the city. city hall, which will involve several additional steps. And city staff have been asked to present budget proposals for reparations to be paid to displaced people for Section 14 – these are expected to be presented to council within the next two months.