DAILY BRIEFING: September 30, 2021
Good morning. It’s Thursday, September 30. Expect mainly sunny skies today with a high of 94 degrees. First, some news you need to know ...
City Council approves relocating Bogert statue, Section 14 apology, exploring reparations
The Palm Springs City Council voted 5-0 Wednesday evening to start the legal process for the removal and relocation of the Frank Bogert monument in front of City Hall and moved forward with an official apology for the forced evictions of low-income people of color decades ago.
The Council also asked city staff to develop proposals for economic investments as reparation for the destruction of the one-square-mile block of property in downtown Palm Springs referred to as Section 14.
The moves came at the end of a five-hour virtual joint meeting with the city’s Human Rights Commission, which adopted a resolution earlier this year recommending the statue of Bogert on horseback be removed. More than 130 people attended the meeting via Zoom. Dozens offered public testimony.
The vote will not bring the immediate removal of the statue and makes no mention of where it might go once removed. Instead, it simply moves the process of relocation forward. The city’s Historic Site Preservation Board is expected to next discuss details of the removal. A coalition of community members is expected to be formed to provide recommendations on a new location for the statue.
At the center of debate was whether it was right to honor Bogert on city property. Bogert, who died in 2009, was an actor who served as mayor twice, including during one of the ugliest periods in city history in the late 1950s through the mid-1960s.
The resolution adopted by the Human Rights Commission was considered but ultimately not adopted by the City Council. It states that Black, indigenous, and other people of color were forced out of their homes in Section 14 when business owners, who were primarily white, sought to develop the property following the 1959 Indian Leasing Act that allowed tribes to enter into long-term leases.
The resolution uses language similar to that found in a 1968 State Attorney General report. That report was critical of the city’s treatment of Section 14 residents but concluded that no criminal activity occurred. The resolution calls out Bogert, specifically, alleging he played a key role in what the Attorney General’s office labeled “a city-engineered Holocaust.”
Council members shied away from singling out Bogert for the actions at Section 14. Instead, they chose to focus on all city leadership at the time.
“The city of Palm Springs was responsible for forcibly moving over 200 families from their homes,” said Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Middleton. “The city of Palm Springs staff burned people’s homes. The city of Palm Springs staff drove bulldozers that took down people’s homes. We cannot erase our role in what happened. It will never go away. …At the same time the love, the affection that was felt for Frank Bogert is absolutely real.”
Many descendants of the families who lived in Section 14, who campaigned against the statue’s original installation 31 years ago, spoke in favor of its relocation Wednesday evening. Some told heart-wrenching stories they had heard from relatives about life in Section 14 and forced removal from their homes.
Among them were several members of the Crawford family, who settled in the city nearly 70 years ago and were among those who lost their homes, as well as the opportunity for generational wealth, when Section 14 was razed.
“I believe that apologies are long overdue and should have been done years ago,” said Deiter Crawford. “Palm Springs ignored that the residents of Section 14 were human beings.”
Council members voted to direct city staff to explore what form reparations for the families affected by Section 14 might take, including additional economic investment in the Desert Highland Gateway Estates neighborhood. Staff was asked to begin work “as quickly as reasonably possible” on recommendations.
Those who spoke against the statue’s removal made claims similar to those raised by members of a group called Friends of Frank Bogert. That group, comprised primarily of Bogert family members and those who knew him, recently launched an ad campaign to defend the former mayor’s reputation. They also leveled accusations against city officials.
“The statue was put in for a human being, not a god,” Carla Harrower said via Zoom. “He represents a part of our history that wasn’t perfect, and it deserves to stay as it is. This history that happened is unfortunate, and systemic racism does exist, yes. Was Frank Bogert responsible for it? No.”
In addition to voting to move forward with removing the statue and exploring reparations, the City Council also elected to support a Human Rights Commission resolution that offered a formal apology for the events at Section 14. The formal apology was designed to recognize the city’s role in the evictions of Section 14 and serve as a permanent reminder of the damage caused to marginalized communities.
Removing the Bogert monument is estimated to cost between $6,000 and $11,000, with the option of relocating the monument to an alternate location being approximately $12,000 to $22,000.
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DINAH UNDERWAY: The Dinah, which brings more than 15,000 lesbian, bisexual, and queer women to Palm Springs for pool parties, shows, and more, officially kicks off today and runs through the weekend. The event, celebrating its 30th year, is based at the Palm Springs Hilton, 400 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way. Today’s events include the official kickoff party starting at 8 PM at Asia SF Palm Springs, 1555 S. Palm Canyon Dr. Weekend events at The Hilton begin at 12 PM Friday, 10 AM on Saturday, and 11 AM on Sunday, and run late into the evening. Multiple ticket options are available here.
SCHOOL COVID: As of this morning, the Palm Springs Unified School District is reporting 29 cases of COVID-19 among students and staff. Schools in Palm Springs account for three of those cases, including two among students and one among staff. The most cases reported at any city school were at Cielo Vista Charter School, where two cases were reported.
MIZELL EVENTS: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers canasta, computer tutoring, basic jewelry making, and more today, starting at 8 AM. Today’s complete schedule can be found here.
RIBBON CUTTING: The City of Palm Springs and Martha’s Village and Kitchen, in partnership with the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce, will hold an official grand opening ribbon-cutting and a day of action to raise awareness about much needed wraparound services now available to homeless individuals at the Palm Springs Access Center, the city’s new daytime drop-in facility. The event is open to the public and begins at 9:30 AM at 225 S. El Cielo Rd.
STORY TIME: The Palm Springs Public Library offers story time for preschoolers starting at 10:30 AM via YouTube. Librarian Nancy Valdivia reads stories, sings songs, and shows early learning concepts (Wednesdays in Spanish and Thursdays in English). You can find more information here, and watch the YouTube videos here.
WOMEN’S CHAT: The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert offers a chat group for all women — no matter how you identify — to discuss topics of interest and find connection every Thursday at 10:30 AM. Information on registering for the event can be found here.
NOT TEEN TALK: The Palm Springs Public Library’s teen librarian hosts an Instagram Live session each Thursday at 3:30 PM. To follow along, follow @psplteenzone on Instagram here.
FOOD AVAILABLE: Food is available for those in need today at a community food bank located at 610 S. Belardo Rd., between 5 PM and 7 PM. A complete calendar of food distribution in the community this month is available here.
TALK ABOUT RACE: Lex Ortega, director of innovation & community engagement at the LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert, hosts an online forum to discuss race, starting at 5 PM. Registration for the online event is available here.
FREE MUSEUM ADMISSION: The Palm Springs Art Museum offers free admission from 5 PM to 7 PM this evening. Tickets are required and can be obtained here.
PETS AND COVID-19: Riverside County Animal Services will be discussing COVID-19 and how it affects our pets and community during a live talk starting at 5:30 PM on Facebook and Zoom. More information about viewing the talk or participating can be found here.
CITY COUNCIL: The Palm Springs City Council meets virtually this evening at 5:30 PM. A complete agenda as well as instructions for participating in and viewing the meeting can be found here.
VILLAGEFEST: The city’s weekly outdoor street fair takes place at 7 PM on Palm Canyon Drive between Amado Road and Tahquitz Canyon Way. The event includes vendor booths on both sides of the street, which is closed to vehicular traffic. At this time, face coverings are required for all who attend, regardless of vaccination status.
VOTING UNDERWAY: Our partners at The Coachella Valley Independent have started the next step in the process of determining the best of the best in the Coachella Valley for 2021-2022. The top vote-getters in each category have been selected, and now you can vote for the winners. To vote for your favorite in any one of multiple categories, start here.
FILM FESTIVAL: Cinema Diverse: The Palm Springs LGBTQ+ Film Festival, ends its run today at the Historic Camelot Theatres at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2100 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way. This year, Cinema Diverse is offering a multi-platform experience with films available virtually and at the theater. Complete information about tickets for the event can be found here.
HUNGER ACTION: FIND Food Bank is engaging with the public through fundraising and awareness events this month in an effort to leave no local resident hungry. Multiple Palm Springs businesses are participating. For more information about all local events this month, go here.
LIBRARY CARD DRIVE: The Palm Springs Public Library is running its annual library card drive during the month of September. Library cards are free to residents of California and offer many advantages other than being able to reserve and check out books. Ready for a library card? Just head to this site to register.
TRAM CLOSED: The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is closed for its annual maintenance. If all goes well, it should reopen on October 11.
Want to know what’s happening in your city and at agencies that make decisions affecting your neighborhood? See below for calendars, meeting agendas, and links to all city services, police reports, code enforcement reports, and more: