Detailed documents suddenly appeared on the City of Palm Springs website on Monday that show that landowners, their conservators, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs evicted residents from Section 14 after careful procedures.
The new documents directly contradict the Human Rights Commission, HRC, Report previously produced by an as yet unidentified author that was used as the basis for an unsubstantiated attack on Bogert in order to remove his statue from in front of City Hall. The newly produced records don’t mention Bogert’s name at all in the matter.
New documents confirm and corroborate what Friends of Frank Bogert have been saying for the last two years about the motivations for the evictions and about the eviction process.
The Desert Sun articles from the time period confirm that Bogert acted with compassion and was trying to help the indigenous people of Palm Springs.
Bogert, in fact, asked landowners and the federal government to halt evictions for months, and also worked “tirelessly” with leaders of the Black community to assist affected families post-eviction.
“Frank’s memory should now be exonerated, and his statue restored.” said Norm King, long-time Palm Springs resident.
These new documents raise further questions: What did the City know about these documents and when did they know it? Why were they quietly posted on the website nearly two years after the campaign to remove Bogert’s statue began? Why has the author of the false HRC report never been identified? Shockingly, all evidence thus far indicates Ron DeHarte, then-Chairman of the HRC and now a sitting council member was the author.
The new documents completely negate statements in the HRC report which erroneously attacked Bogert. The report is fatally flawed and should be retracted and trashed.
The documents also discredit the oft-cited Attorney General’s report as well as false claims repeated by media outlets.
Palm Springs — Scores of new documents were unceremoniously posted to the City’s website late on Monday afternoon which show that one of Palm Springs’ most popular mayors, Frank Bogert, was not mentioned in public records as having any involvement with evicting Section 14 tenants.
We commend the city for releasing written records which clearly undermine the council member allegations about Frank Bogert used to justify the removal of his statue. Why did these records only surface after Friends of Frank Bogert filed a public records request under the Freedom of Information Act?
Long-time resident of Palm Springs Norm King noted, “The newly released documents support what Friends of Frank Bogert have contended for two years — that the City Council acted on false information when voting to remove the statue.”
The combination of the newly discovered documents and firsthand reporting from local journalists at the time provide irrefutable evidence that Bogert was not responsible for the evictions and acted with compassion. The Desert Sun at the time described Bogert as working “tirelessly” to seek housing for Section 14 evictees and a high-ranking federal government official asserted that Bogert was “vigorous in attempting to make welfare arrangements for the residents of Section 14.” Bogert directly hired the City’s first Black employee (and Section 14 resident), Charlie Jordan, who he served with on a Citizens Committee to assist Section 14 residents. Furthermore, the record shows Bogert worked closely with leaders in the Black community, including Reverend Jeff Rollins, the local NAACP chapter, and Lawrence Crossley to seek housing solutions for Section 14 residents. In 1961, Bogert negotiated a 6-month eviction moratorium with landowners and the federal government to buy time for Section 14 residents to seek housing alternatives. (An extensive timeline of Bogert and the City’s efforts to assist Section 14 residents is available upon request.)
Tribal Council Chairs in the 1960s commended Bogert for aiding the Tribe in exercising its long sought after right to develop its lands. Several prominent Tribal members have called the City’s recent attacks on Bogert “disgusting” and “appalling”.
The new documents show that the City Manager, Frank Aleshire, set strict procedures for methodically documenting that the landowner’s will to have people removed, making sure that tenants and squatters were aware through multiple meetings and confirming that buildings were vacant of persons and belongings before any actions were taken.
The extensive records show specific names of individuals who were evicted, specific dates, before-and-after photos of structures which show unsafe squalor, and actual signatures of individuals involved. For example, the documents show that Rollins himself, after multiple meetings, signed the permit for the removal of First Baptist Church.
The sudden appearance of the documents posted to the website without notice raises questions about what exactly current and immediate past City Council members and Human Rights Commission leaders knew as they attacked Bogert, an attack Ron DeHarte admitted publicly was a “political effort.”
“It seems awfully suspicious that city leaders released these documents after having damaged Bogert’s reputation without bothering to research the facts, recklessly enflaming racial tensions, removing the Bogert statue at City Hall, and dragging an innocent man’s name through the mud,” said Norm King.
The numerous falsehoods in the HRC report have been detailed previously by Friends of Frank Bogert are substantiated by the new documents. (Additionally, the HRC report has been challenged by Dr. Kray, who was plagiarized and had her statements modified without her permission.)
Further, the new documents unequivocally disprove the 1968 Deputy Attorney General report statement that “homes were destroyed with no real concern on the part of the city that the families were properly notified of the impending destruction.” The extensive documentation disproves the assertion that the city “did not keep records” of the vacated structures prior to removal.
The new documents show that the Bureau of Indian Affairs, individual Indian and non-Indian landowners, trust officers, trustees and guardians asked the City for assistance and directed the evictions, contrary to the false allegations asserted by those who attacked Bogert.
Considering the new information exonerating Bogert, the non-profit group Friends of Frank Bogert are demanding an apology to Bogert’s widow and family.
Norm King asks, “In a town that pretends to care about Human Rights, someone should be held accountable for dragging the Bogert family and the residents of this city through this ugly charade. Frank’s reputation, falsely slandered by the report and the City Council, should be re-established and his statue restored.”