Florida city’s first Black female firefighter sues over mural that depicted her as a White person

Francis Akhalbey October 12, 2021
Latosha Clemons filed a lawsuit against the city of Boynton Beach over a mural that depicted her as a White person -- Photo via Palm Beach Post/YouTube

A former Black Boynton Beach deputy fire chief filed a lawsuit against the city over an honorary mural that depicted her as a White person. According to CNN, the lawsuit was filed by Latosha Clemons in April, and the Boynton Beach City Commission is set to deliberate on it this week.

The mural in question was unveiled to honor Clemons and others for their contributions to the city. But per the suit, Clemons alleges the mural “reflected her as a White member of the city fire department.”

A subsequent amended complaint was also filed on behalf of Clemons later in September. The complaint explains the suit was filed “to redress the defamatory statement [the City of Boynton Beach] made regarding her race and/or its negligence in failing to properly oversee an approved use of the likeness of Clemons.”

Clemons is the city’s first Black female firefighter. She joined the department in 1996 and went ahead to serve the city for 26 years, the complaint states. The complaint also claims Clemons gave the green light for a proposed picture of her to be used for the mural after the project was approved by the City Art Commission.

“Come June 3, 2020, when the mural was unveiled, it did not reflect Clemons as the Black member of the city fire department. Instead, it was altered and reflected her as a White member of the city Fire Department,” the complaint said, according to CNN.

“Being depicted as White was not only a false presentation of Clemons, it was also a depiction which completely disrespected all that [she] the first female Black firefighter for the city had accomplished,” the complaint states.

The mural was taken down a day after it was unveiled, The Guardian reported. And following the controversy that ensued, the city’s public art manager was fired, while the Boynton Beach fire chief also resigned after he was demoted.

The suit claims “the actions of the city were done intentionally and knowingly to defame and injure Clemons.”The suit also adds Clemons has suffered financial loss as a result of the incident, and she has also been affected emotionally and mentally.

Clemons is seeking more than $30,000 in damages. She is also requesting a trial by jury, CNN reported. A mediation session will be held on November 30.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: October 12, 2021


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