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Black female firefighter sues Florida city for depicting her as white woman in mural

Latosha Clemons is reportedly seeking $100,000 in the suit.

firefighter Getty Images/EyeEm

A Black female firefighter has filed a lawsuit against a Florida city for depicting her as a white woman in a mural last year.

According to CNN, Latosha Clemons, the first Black female firefighter in the City of Boynton Beach, is seeking $100,000 in the suit, which was filed back in April. She stated that she suffered mental distress and was subjected to ridicule and humiliation after seeing the image. Per the complaint, the painting that was created to honor her and other people for their service to the city “reflected her as a White member of the city fire department.”

A second amended complaint that was filed last month alleges that the case is being brought on account of Clemons “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.”

In November 2019, the City Art Commission reportedly approved the mural, which contained an image that Clemons authorized for use. “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 read.

“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 suit added.

Not only did the image represent Clemons as white, but it also portrayed former Boynton Fire Chief Glenn Joseph, who is a Black man, as white too. After backlash, the mural was removed the day after it was revealed and the Boynton Beach city manager fired Debby Coles-Dobay, the city’s public arts manager.

However, Coles-Dobay said she was pressured to make the mural that way by the city and Fire Chief’s Office. City officials and Clemons are set to meet with a mediator on Nov. 30.

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