A probationary firefighter was fired from his new post in Detroit for what his commissioner called "offensive and racially insensitive work behavior" when he brought a watermelon in to work, our affiliate WKRC reported.
Robert Pattinson, 41, was engaging in a tradition of new firefighters bringing gifts to introduce themselves to the veterans at their assigned stations. According to WJBK, some of his new African-American coworkers were instantly offended when Pattinson brought in a watermelon with a bow on it since 90 percent of the firefighters at the station are black.
Fire Commissioner Eric Jones officially discharged Pattinson and issued a statement that read: "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."
On Tuesday, WJBK reported that Pattinson received a big show of support when a fellow firefighter, who is African-American, posted a photo to social media of Pattinson surrounded by 10 black firefighters.
"Just wanna let everyone know he's a real amazing dude and it was all good intentions," the man wrote. "And our ENTIRE class supporting him in this. ESPECIALLY us African Americans and that's all that needs to be said. Stay up brother. #DFD."