Latosha Clemons had spent 26 years with the city’s fire department before retiring last year. A mural depicting her and two other firefighters changed her skin colour to white
Image: YouTube/Palm Beach Post)
A woman who was the first black female firefighter in Florida has been presented in a controversial mural with white skin.
The artwork featured Latosha Clemons who had spent 26 years with the city’s fire department before retiring last year.
She was due to be presented alongside two other female firefighters and the mural was based on a photo of the trio.
It was unveiled but taken down the next day later after sparking a backlash which left to the firing of the fire chief and another employee.
The art manager, who was also fired, told the Boynton Beach Post, that she had been pressured by the fire chief and staff to make the change to the skin colour.
She additional that the City Hall were also aware of the alteration before the unveiling.
Ms Clemons is suing Boynton Beach and her lawsuit claims the pioneering firefighter deserves more than $100,000 (about £73,000) after she suffered damages “including, but not limited to, loss of income, relocation expenses and additional living expenses as a consequence of relocating”.
The mural, caused mental and emotional harm and “subjected her to ridicule, contempt, disgrace and/or humiliation,” her attorney Arthur Schofield said in an amended complaint.
“Being presented 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 achieved, her determination, focus and hard work,” a recent amended complaint said.
YouTube/Palm Beach Post)
Ms Clemons told the newspaper she was hurt, disappointed and outraged.
“It’s been my heart and soul and my lifeblood to serve in the community where I grew up … this is beyond disrespect and I basically want to know why it happened.”
Lawyers for the City said in a court filing that the employees who changed the artwork acted “outside the scope of their employment,” the Post reported.
City officials are scheduled to meet today to discuss the lawsuit and how to proceed.
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