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Latosha Clemons, the first Black female deputy fire chief and the only Black female firefighter in Boynton Beach, Florida, was to have been depicted on a long-planned public arts mural. But when the mural was unveiled at a ribbon-cutting this month, Clemons’ image had been replaced by a white face.
The mural also was to have featured the image of Glenn Joseph, a Black former fire chief. He was also replaced by a white face. Now Clemons has hired a lawyer to find out how the mural ended up featuring only white firefighters.
The article goes on to state the following:
“I wanted little Black girls to look at that mural and know they can have their face on a mural,” said Clemons, who had retired from the department a few months earlier.
The report says the mural was removed on June 4, and will be replaced with the original design, although a date for the new mural has not yet been announced.
The city manager released the following statement:
The decision made to alter the artwork that was approved by the Public Arts Commission was wrong and disrespectful to our community. Every employee in the City of Boynton Beach works for its community. As a leader, I have been very clear that I will not tolerate any employee to be disrespectful, in any shape or form, to any members of our community.
Therefore, effective immediately, I have terminated Debby Coles-Dobay, Public Arts Manager and removed Matthew Petty as the Chief of the Fire Rescue Department. The decisions were difficult but necessary.
Her face was removed from the public art display at Fire Station 1 in Boynton Beach & altered to look white. Latosha Clemons said the final design was approved in November. Her image & the image of a black former fire chief were erased. https://t.co/nLmcHgFPUp
— Eric Yutzy (@EricYutzyWPLG) June 18, 2020
Latosha Clemons will talk to TV cameras for the first time. pic.twitter.com/JxcMhxbSzy
— Sandy Collier (@HeySandyPR) June 17, 2020
Meet Boynton Beach’s new Deputy Fire Chief of Administration, Latosha Clemons has more than 20 years of service to the City. pic.twitter.com/ObIYTL1m4b
— Liz Quirantes (@lizquirantes) December 16, 2016
Two Florida officials fired for erasing faces of Black firefighters from city mural. https://t.co/cHPQCvJ2kL
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 30, 2020
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