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The first Black female deputy fire chief in Boynton Beach, Florida is suing the city after she was erased from a mural honoring the city’s firefighters and replaced with a white person.

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Latosha Clemons, along with former fire chief Glenn Joseph, who is Black, was replaced by a white face when the mural was unveiled at a ribbon-cutting last summer. The incident reportedly resulted in two city employees losing their job.

“Who made these changes and why did they make these changes?” Clemons’ attorney asked at a news conference last summer, NBC News reported.

“I wanted little Black girls to look at that mural and know they can have their face on a mural,” said Clemons at the time. She was the only Black female firefighter in Boynton Beach until her retirement in 2020. Clemens served the community for 20 years.

“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,” a complaint filed in April read, according to The Guardian.

 

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“I was like ‘Wow, why did this happen,’” Clemons said at a press conference in June of 2020, as reported by WPTV News. “I was hurt, I was disappointed, and then I was outraged.”

Nicole Hunt Jackson, Clemons’ attorney, said: “My role is to get to who is responsible, how they came to the conclusion it was acceptable — and to push the issue for the need to examine policies and determine whether or not there needs to be racial sensitivity training,” she explained.

“It’s a huge racial insult. For them to unilaterally take this and decide to not only remove her face but to whitewash the face, it is beyond offensive,” said Jackson.

The two Black firefighters were reportedly removed from the mural at the request of the fire chief because they were no longer with the department.

“The decision made to alter the artwork that was approved by the Public Arts Commission was wrong and disrespectful to our community,” City Manager Lori LaVerriere previously said.

“The City Commission will meet in a closed-door session to discuss the litigation. It is not a public meeting,” LaVerriere told CNN.

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