Officials in a south Florida city will meet this week to discuss a lawsuit filed by the city’s first Black female firefighter, after her image was replaced with a white face in a mural meant to honor local history.
Latosha Clemons, a former deputy fire chief of Boynton Beach, filed the lawsuit in April, accusing the city of defamation and negligence.
“Being depicted as white was not only a false presentation of Clemons, it was also a depiction which completely disrespected all that the first female Black firefighter for the city had accomplished,” the complaint said.
In the mural, a depiction of retired fire chief Glenn Joseph, who is Black, was also replaced with an image of a white face.
The mural was removed the day after it was unveiled in June last year. The city manager fired the public arts manager and demoted the fire chief, who then resigned.
The former arts manager, Debby Coles-Dobay, told reporters she was “pressured” to make the change.
The Boynton Beach city manager, Lori LaVerriere, told CNN the city commission would meet privately this week to discuss Clemons’ lawsuit.
Clemons was born in Boynton Beach and became the city’s first Black female firefighter in 1996. She worked as deputy fire chief for three years before retiring in 2020.
In June, she told reporters that when she saw the image: “I was hurt, I was disappointed and then I was outraged.”
Clemons has requested a jury trial and is seeking more than $100,000 in damages, according to the Palm Beach Post.