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Detroit Firefighter Fired for Gifting a Watermelon to a Predominately Black Fire Station

Wow, 41-year-old Robert Pattinson introduced himself to fellow firefighters at a Detroit firehouse and arrived at the station with a gift.

Firefighter-Watermelon

Ordinarily that wouldn’t be a problem, but Robert’s gift consisted of a big watermelon with a pink bow — and this particular firehouse is 90% Black.

Several African-American firefighters were reportedly offended by the watermelon, which has been used as a racist symbol dating back to the slavery era.

“When you get your first detail at a firehouse, you pretty much know what you are getting yourself into," said Engine 55 firefighter Patrick Trout. “So you would have to say it was probably a bad call."

Pattison said he didn’t mean to offend anyone and claimed it wasn’t supposed to be a joke, but the department decided to fire him, according to WJBK, who received this statement from Fire Commissioner Eric Jones:

“There is zero tolerance for discriminatory behavior inside the Detroit Fire Department. 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. After a thorough investigation, it was determined that the best course of action was to terminate the employment of this probationary employee."

When asked if Pattison deserved to lose his job over the watermelon, Second Battalion Chief Shawn McCarty said he wasn’t sure.

“Between what he did and losing his job, there were a few things that could have been done," McCarty said.

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