Black Detroit firefighters defend white recruit fired over watermelon

DETROIT (WSVN) — A firefighter in Detroit lost his job on his first day at work after he brought a watermelon to the fire station as a gift. It was a move seen as “racially offensive.”

Even though 41-year-old Robert Pattinson insisted it was not a joke gift, nor was it meant to be offensive, he lost his job.

Now Pattinson is getting a big show of support from his fellow fire academy classmates.

Related: Firefighter fired on first day for bringing watermelon to station 

“Just want to let everyone know he’s a real amazing dude and it was all good intentions,” wrote Tadarius Spearman. “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.”

Photo: Fox 2 Detroit

Pattinson was fired after African-American firefighters at his new station were offended by the watermelon. Fire Commissioner Eric Jones discharged Pattinson, saying the watermelon gift amounted to discriminatory behavior at a station where 90 percent of the workers are black.

“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 wrote in a statement to Fox 2 Detroit. “After a thorough investigation, it was determined that the best course of action was to terminate the employment of this probationary employee.”

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