Black Detroit firefighters defend white recruit fired over watermelon
DETROIT (WJBK) - A fired Detroit probationary firefighter is getting a big show of support.
Robert Pattinson was fired after bringing a watermelon to his new post at Engine 55 at Joy and Southfield after some African-American firefighters there were offended.
Pattinson, a 41-year-old from Fenton who is white, told FOX 2 by phone that it was not a joke. But Fire Commissioner Eric Jones officially discharged him afterwards.
But Tuesday a social media post by Tadarius Spearman stuck up for Pattinson, including a group photo of him with other African-American firefighters.
"Just want to let everyone know he's a real amazing dude and it was all good intentions," he 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."
Last week Jones released a statement to FOX 2 saying there was 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," Jones wrote. "After a thorough investigation, it was determined that the best course of action was to terminate the employment of this probationary employee."