Black firefighters support probationary firefighter fired over watermelon
Robert Pattison was fired after bringing watermelon to his new, predominantly black fire station
By FireRescue1 Staff
DETROIT — A firefighter who was terminated for alleged racist misconduct is receiving support from his former colleagues.
FOX2 reported that probationary firefighter Robert Pattison was fired for bringing a watermelon to his new station that is predominantly black on his first day after some African-American firefighters were offended.
Pattison claims the gesture was not meant to be a racist joke, and a social media post by firefighter Tadarius Spearman showed support for Pattison with a photo of him and other African-American firefighters.
"Just want to let everyone know he's a real amazing dude and it was all good intentions," the post said. "And our entire class is supporting him in this. Especially us African-Americans and that's all that needs to be said. Stay up brother. #DFD."
Commissioner Eric Jones issued a statement about the incident, saying Detroit Fire Department has a zero tolerance policy for discrimination.
"On Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, at Engine 55, a trial firefighter (probationary employee) engaged in unsatisfactory work behavior which was deemed offensive and racially insensitive to members of the Detroit Fire Department," Jones said. "After a thorough investigation, it was determined that the best course of action was to terminate the employment of this probationary employee."