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Black firefighter sues Florida over image representing her as White in mural

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

A former firefighter is suing the US state of Florida over a mural, which depicts her with a White face.

Latosha Clemons, who is Boynton Beach's first Black female firefighter, is seeking more than $100,000 in damages in the lawsuit.

Attorneys are scheduled to meet with commissioners in a closed-door session on Tuesday to pursue the matter over the mural, which was based on an actual photograph of three women.

According to court documents, Boynton Beach officials wanted Clemons depicted as White, "a race the city presumably felt better fit the image it was trying to project.”

The 2019 project by the city's art commission to honor the fire department depicts Clemons as White along with two actually White female firefighters.

"I'm hurt. I'm disappointed. I'm outraged," Clemons told the Palm Beach Post in June 2020. "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."

The mural was removed a day after it was unveiled at Fire Rescue Station No. 1 near City Hall on June 3, 2020.

According to the lawsuit, the mural “completely disrespected all that Clemons.... had accomplished,"  and "also demonstrated disrespect for the large black population.”

The lawsuit also alleges that the mural "subjected her to ridicule, contempt, disgrace and/or humiliation."


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