Father Responds to Missouri Agency Blurring Photo of His Son in Trump 2020 Apparel: 'They Should Have Left Him Alone'

A government department in Missouri has apologized after editing out Donald Trump references from a photograph of a young competition winner.

The Missouri Department of Transportation's Northeast District said it made an "error in judgment" by altering a picture of Mitchel Lemons getting ready to push a button to demolish the Champ Clark Bridge before posting it online.

The teenage boy, from Nebo, Illinois, had won the chance to push the button that would take down the bridge on October 18.

For the occasion, the 13-year-old had worn a "Trump 2020" t-shirt and matching hat. However, the Missouri Department of Transportation's Northeast District edited the photo to blur out "Trump" from Mitchel's hat and cropped the image so his T-shirt could not be seen before uploading it to Facebook.

The department has now apologized and posted the original photo, showing the Trump attire, on Facebook.

"Mitchel Lemons from Nebo, Il gets his trigger finger ready to push the detonator for the first blast to take down two spans of the old Champ Clark Bridge. Mitchell won the opportunity to 'push the button' by buying a raffle ticket benefiting local EMS," the caption reads.

The boy's father, Steve Lemons, said he was "kind of upset" about the original edit.

"It was his decision," he told KSDK. "[Mitchel] wanted to wear the hat with the shirt. They should have left him alone. It's his freedom of speech or whatever you want to call it."

Steve Lemons added he didn't believe the department meant to upset anyone.

The Missouri Department of Transportation's Northeast District also responded to criticism of the original post on social media.

"We respect all individuals' choice and edited the picture because many of the comments were detracting from the intent of the post which is to celebrate this young man's excitement to have an opportunity of a lifetime," a comment on Facebook read, via KMOV.

In a further statement to KSDK, the Missouri Department of Transportation's Northeast District said they decided to edit the picture because they didn't want to face accusations of political rallying in the state, which overwhelmingly voted for Trump in 2016.

"Our response to feedback from the original post questioning whether MoDOT was campaigning led to an error in judgment in editing the photo," a spokesperson said.

"We recognized and apologized for the error and reposted the original photo and Facebook post."

The destruction of the Champ Clark Bridge was broadcast live on the Missouri Department of Transportation's Northeast District's social media pages.

Missouri Department of Transportation
The agency later apologized and posted the original photo of the competition winner with his Trump clothing. Missouri Department of Transportation's Northeast District
Father Responds to Missouri Agency Blurring Photo of His Son in Trump 2020 Apparel: 'They Should Have Left Him Alone' | U.S.