Detroit Firefighter Brings Watermelon to Work as Gift- Gets Fired
Robert Pattison, 41, was hired as a probationary Detroit firefighter. It’s a tradition to bring a welcome gift to the department on your first day of work. Though some people bring doughnuts, Pattison decided to bring a watermelon on September 30, with a pink ribbon on it. Engine 55, the company he was assigned to, is 90% black. They took offense, he got fired before he even got a chance to work.
The tradition of bringing a gift to introduce yourself is voluntary.
“It’s not mandatory, it’s voluntary. You come in bearing gifts. The usual gift is doughnuts, but you are allowed to bring whatever you want to bring in.” Shawn McCarty, Battalion Chief
But the watermelon set off a negative reaction in some of the black firefighters. Pattison knew that Engine 55 had black firemen ahead of time, according to reports.
The Fire Commissioner discharged the probationary firefighter.
“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.” Commissioner Eric Jones
Fox2 contacted Pattison, who claimed he did not mean to offend anyone by his gift. He said it was not a “joke.” They didn’t think it was a joke either.
As long as our society lives “offended” by all sorts of innocuous things…like watermelon… this kind of thing will continue. Liberals claim that watermelons are a stereotype for lazy black people and therefore racist.
The Battalion Chief McCarty says he’s not sure Pattison should have been fired over a watermelon, however. “I don’t think so. Between what he did and what was there are a few things that could have been done.”
Pattison may not have meant anything by his “gift” but he should have been aware of what has been occurring in the world and the racial tensions that have resulted. That lack of awareness was his first and last mistake. And for the record, watermelon is a welcome addition to picnics all over the nation – focusing on THAT aspect would have spared Mr. Pattison from losing his job.