A 41-year-old probationary firefighter was fired his first day on the job because he brought a watermelon to work as a gift in a predominantly black firehouse, Engine 55. It’s a tradition for the new guy to bring some food to share.
Robert Pattison went to introduce himself by bringing the watermelon decorated with a pink bow. Most rookies bring donuts. Some of the black firefighters, who make up about 90% of the station, said they were offended by the act. The Detroit Fire Department decided to fire the probie.
The news outlet reported, “Fire Commissioner Eric Jones says the Fenton native was officially discharged.”
Jones said in a statement: “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,” he added.
Watermelons are not discriminatory. His intentions are what matter but there is some question about that.
Firefighters who trained with him stood up for Pattison at first. Tadarius Spearman described him as an “amazing dude” who had “good intentions” and wrote in a Facebook post that the entire class stands with him.
“Just want to let everyone know he’s a real amazing dude and it was all good intentions,” firefighter Tadarius Spearman wrote in a Facebook post. He put up the photo above and wrote, “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.”
Spearman recanted his support.
Spearman’s post has been deleted since a former EMS colleague of the rookie made a video and posted it on the Facebook page, ‘Fix Wayne count Now’. She said that Pattison has a negative work history that has gotten him fired from other jobs. She scorched him, saying he slapped one patient and is suing the city. We can’t confirm or refute her statements.
I am going to offer some commentary here. How can a watermelon be a racist fruit? Even if this fired employee was fired from other jobs, according to one angry woman, how is the fruit racist and bringing one to work discriminatory?