A Black former firefighter is suing a Florida city after it put up a mural depicting her as a white person

Latosha Clemons seen on  WPTV News in June 2020.
Latosha Clemons. WPTV News/YouTube
  • Latosha Clemons was the first Black female firefighter in Boynton Beach, Florida. She retired in 2020.
  • The city erected a mural with her likeness, but it showed her with a white face.
  • Clemons sued the city for defamation in April 2021. The city is voting on a $US80,000 ($AU108,404) payout next week.

The first Black female firefighter of Boynton Beach, Florida, is suing the city after it erected a mural that depicted her as a white person.

Latosha Clemons, 48, who served as deputy fire chief at the Boynton Beach Fire Rescue Department until her retirement in mid-2020, sued the city for defamation and negligence in April. She joined the department in 1996.

The mural, which bore famous faces from the department, was put up in her old fire station on June 3, 2020. It showed Clemons and Glenn Joseph, a Black retired fire chief, with white faces.

The mural was removed on June 4, 2020, and two local officials subsequently lost their jobs, the Palm Beach Post reported.

“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,” Clemons’ complaint said.

Steve Grant, the mayor of Boynton Beach, said Wednesday that the decision to alter the mural was made to make the subjects unrecognizable, like faces seen on Google Maps’ Street View, NBC News reported.

A new version of the mural was reinstated in November 2020 showing Clemons with an accurate skin tone, but it did not include Joseph, NBC News reported.

Clemons is seeking substantial damages and the Florida City Commission is voting over a potential $US80,000 ($AU108,404) settlement next Tuesday, NBC News reported.

In the complaint, attorneys for Clemons said that she approved the use of a picture of her for the City Art Commission in November 2019.

However, “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 said.