Classmates Speak Out About Detroit Firefighter Who Was Fired Over Watermelon

Detroit probationary firefighter Robert Pattinson was fired after he brought a watermelon to his fire station for his new co-workers.

Detroit, Michigan – A group of Detroit firefighters showed support for another firefighter who was fired for bringing a watermelon into work as a gift. Ten black firefighters posed for a group photo with Robert Pattinson, and it was was posted on Facebook by one of the black firefighters.

Tadarius Spearman posted the photo Oct. 10 on his Facebook account, according to Fox 2 Detroit TV.

Spearman wrote, “Just want to let everyone know he’s a real amazing dude and it was all good intentions,” Spearman said in his Facebook post. “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."

Fire Commissioner Eric Jones had fired Pattinson, who is 41 years old and white, after he brought the watermelon to his new post at Engine 55.

"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 in a statement to the TV station.

"After a thorough investigation, it was determined that the best course of action was to terminate the employment of this probationary employee."

Pattinson also had overwhelming support on the Fox 2 Detroit Facebook page.

“I’m black and I didn’t see anything wrong with him bringing a [watermelon] to the job,” a Tanesha Michelle Hill posted. “Some people blow the smallest thing up for no reason. Give that man his job back. He have my support 100%.”

“This brother is a really good person,” said a LaVaughn DeAngelo Williams on the Fox 2 Facebook page. “There was no malice in his intent. He is a health nut, who believes that everyone should take care of their bodies and nourishment. I would only suggest getting to know him before throwing out a comment with no basis of knowledge of the individual. We are proud of him, and he is a brother to us regardless of color.”

It seems to be a great deal of wasted tax payer money in the training of this firefighter. Maybe somebody in management can pull their heads out of the dark, stinky place and put this man back to work. Man up, admit you misjudged and move forward.

Totally ridiculous. If that was the only issue then he should be reinstated immediately.

Sure hope the chief doesn't raid the refrigerator of a burning building first....to determine if the occupant has racist food in it before he allows the fire to be put out. Let's just segregate our foods at the grocery store to eliminate confusion in the future!


That's as stupid as the complaint that was made against a fire captain here in Dallas several years ago. There was a 4-alarm fire in August, and several firefighters were experiencing heat exhaustion and cramps. The temperature was already over 100 degrees and in their heavy gear, they were losing too much potassium. The captain went to a nearby Whole Foods and bought bunches of bananas for them. A black firefighter complained that the captain was trying to mock him and classifying him as a "jungle bunny". He actually filed a lawsuit against the city and the NAACP got involved. Here in TX, watermelons are a staple at fire stations in the summer due to extreme and prolonged heat.

Give the man his job back.

....does this mean anyone who brings a watermelon to their job from now on is going to be banned??? and if he had brought pears that would have been fine? - although, goodness knows, people might have thought that was a really strange choice to bring in...non-political, but strange...

Fired for a watermelon? What if he had brought them some KFC...would he have been shot? I saw true racism in South Carolina in the early 50's, and this was not racism! This was just a guy trying to please his buddies. Rehire him with apologies.

Wonderful, so glad to read this!!!

I submit that the only racist in all of this is the Fire Commissioner. God help the next black Firefighter who brings in a Saltine!!

Maybe, in hindsight, he realizes that it probably wasn’t the smartest idea to bring a gift of a watermelon into a predominantly black firehouse. Maybe a little OEEO training. But really a fireable offense? Come on now, that’s a stretch. I hope he can sue and get his job back with back pay too. It’s too bad he didn’t run his choice of a gift by some friends first. There’s always someone offended by something, real or imagined. I really don’t believe this guy had any malice in his heart. He just isn’t the brightest bulb in the box. Should have just brought a bag of apples or an apple pie. But then again in this PC environment maybe that could possibly be offensive too.