A Florida city’s first black female firefighter has filed a lawsuit against the municipality after the unveiling of a controversial mural that depicted her with fair skin.
Latosha Clemons’ lawsuit against Boynton Beach claims that the leading firefighter is entitled to more than $100,000 in damages after “loss of income as a result of the relocation, including, but not limited to, relocation expenses and additional living expenses.” “
Her lawyer, Arthur Scofield, wrote in a revised complaint that the mural, which was unveiled last year before it was quickly razed, caused mental and emotional harm and “caused her ridicule, contempt, humiliation and/or subjected to humiliation.”
The recently revised complaint stated, “Being portrayed as white was not only a false representation of Clemons, but it was also a portrayal that helped CITY’s first black firefighter to accomplish CLEMONS, his determination, focus and Totally disrespected for hard work.”
The Boynton Beach Post reported that city officials are due to meet on Tuesday to discuss the trial and how to proceed.
Clemons, who spent 26 years with the department before retiring last year, was to be included in a mural for a city fire station. Her image was based on a photograph of Clemons and two other female firefighters.
But when the city unveiled the mural in June 2020, Clemons and another former fire chief, also black, were painted as white. The defeat prompted a swift response that led to the shooting of the fire chief and another employee, and a day later the mural was removed.
The fired public arts manager told the Post that he was pressured to make the change by the fire chief and staff, City Hall was aware of the change, according to the Post.
City lawyers said in a court filing that the employees who replaced the artwork acted “outside the scope of their employment,” the Post reported.
She told the newspaper at the time that she was hurt, disappointed and angry.
“Serving the community I grew up in has been my heart and soul and my life … It’s beyond disrespect and I basically want to know why this happened.”