A white firefighter in Detroit was terminated over a racially insensitive gesture that offended his fellow co-workers.
WJBK Detroit is reporting that 41-year-old Robert Pattison, a probationary firefighter at Engine 55 at Joy and Southfield, brought a giant watermelon wrapped in a pink ribbon as he hoped to introduce himself to his peers.
The station, which is made up of roughly 90 percent African Americans, has a tradition where new recruits bear gifts to the veterans. Though it’s not mandatory the usual gift is doughnuts.
“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 insisted the gesture was not a joke and that he didn’t mean any offense, but he was still summarily dismissed.
“There is zero tolerance for discriminatory behavior inside the Detroit Fire Department,” said Fire Commissioner Eric Jones in a statement. “On Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, at Engine 55, a trial firefighter engaged in unsatisfactory work behavior which was deemed offensive and racially insensitive to members of the Detroit Fire Department.”