Show of support for firefighter fired over watermelon - WNEM TV 5

Show of support for firefighter fired over watermelon

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A Michigan firefighter is getting a big show of support after being fired for something some called "racially insensitive." 

Robert Pattison 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.

Pattison, a 41-year-old from Fenton who is white, told our CBS affiliates at FOX 2 by phone that it was not a joke. But Fire Commissioner Eric Jones officially discharged him afterwards.

On Tuesday, a social media post by Tadarius Spearman stuck up for Pattison, 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."

A petition on to get Pattison reinstated has generated more than 2,000 signatures. 

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