The first black female firefighter in Boynton Beach, Florida, recently filed a lawsuit against the city for a mural that appeared to depict her as white.
“Latosha Clemons’ lawsuit against Boynton Beach claims the pioneering firefighter deserves more than $100,000 after she suffered damages ‘including, but not limited to, loss of income, relocation expenses and additional living expenses as a result of relocating,’” the New York Post reported Monday.
— New York Post (@nypost) October 12, 2021
The mural that was unveiled in 2020 before it was hastily removed, allegedly caused mental and emotional injury and “subjected her to ridicule, contempt, disgrace and/or humiliation,” her attorney, Arthur Schofield, stated in an amended complaint.
“Being depicted as white was not only a false presentation of CLEMONS, it was also a depiction which completely disrespected all that CLEMONS the first black firefighter for the CITY had accomplished, her determination, focus and hard work,” an amended complaint read.
City officials were reportedly scheduled to gather Tuesday to discuss the lawsuit and talk about how to move forward.
Clemons, who served 26 years in the department before retiring in 2020, was supposed to be included in the mural for one of the municipality’s fire stations.
The image was based on a picture of Clemons and two additional female firefighters, the outlet continued:
But when the city unveiled the mural in June 2020, Clemons and another former fire chief, who is also black, were portrayed as white. The debacle sparked swift backlash that led to the firing of the fire chief and another employee and removing the mural a day later. The fired public art manager told the Post she was pressured by the fire chief and staff to make the change, with City Hall aware of the alteration, according to the Post.
“I was like, ‘Wow. Why did this happen?’ I was hurt. I was disappointed and then I was outraged,” Clemons said last year:
City attorneys noted in a court filing the employees who modified the artwork acted “outside the scope of their employment,” according to the Post.