Skip to Content

Detroit firefighter fired because he brought a ‘racist’ gift

When the 41-year-old Robert Pattison arrived as the new colleague, he brought his fellow firefighters at Engine 55 at Joy and Southfield in Detroit a gift. But it turned out to be the wrong one.

Published: October 11, 2017, 10:58 am

    Second Battalion Chief Shawn McCarty said it has been a tradition for new firefighters to bring a present.

    “It’s not mandatory, it’s voluntary,” he explained. “You come in bearing gifts. The usual gift is doughnuts, but you are allowed to bring whatever you want to bring in.”

    Pattison, a probationary firefighter, decided to bring a watermelon. The African-American firefighters however were instantly offended. Some 90 percent of the workforce at Engine 55 are black.

    “When you get your first detail at a firehouse you pretty much know what you are getting yourself into,” says Patrick Trout. “So you would have to say it was probably a bad call.”

    Fox News wanted to know how the gift could be racist. “Is it racially insensitive to bring a watermelon into a fire house?”

    McCarty responded: “To some people.”

    But when Fox called Pattison by phone, he said his gesture was well-intended and that he did not mean to offend his fellow firefighters.

    Fire Commissioner Eric Jones said Pattison, who is white, has been officially discharged.

    In a statement Jones says: “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.”

    Fox News questioned the extreme reaction to the gift. “Should he have lost his job over a watermelon?”

    Chief McCarthy concluded that he did not agree with the harsh measure. “I don’t think so,” McCarty said. “Between what he did and what was there, are a few things that could have been done.”

    But the link between African Americans and watermelons was promoted in part by African American minstrels themselves who sang popular songs such as “The Watermelon Song” and “Oh, Dat Watermelon” in their shows, and which were set down in print as early as in the 1870s.

    At the National Book Awards ceremony in November 2014, author Daniel Handler made a remark about watermelons deemed “outrageous” after black author Jacqueline Woodson was presented with an award for young people’s literature.

    During the ceremony, Handler noted that Woodson was allergic to watermelon, a reference to the stereotype about blacks loving watermelons. His comments drew hysteria and Handler apologized via Twitter and donated $10,000 to We Need Diverse Books, and promised to match donations up to $100,000.

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.

    Americas

    American Psychiatric Association warns against ‘diagnosing’ Trump

    American Psychiatric Association has warned leftist psychiatrists to stop "diagnosing" President Trump without a medical examination, as it represents a total violation of medical ethics.

    ‘Consensus’ on climate science takes a hit in 2017

    Climate change research for 2017 revealed that the alleged "consensus'" on the so-called dangers of anthropogenic global warming has not yet been established as far as all climate scientists are concerned.

    Lawsuit likely to reveal the bizarre and disturbing culture inside Google

    Santa ClaraJames Damore, an employee fired from Google for circulating a memo critical of feminism and their diversity initiatives, has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the company in California.

    Antifa implicated in deadly Amtrak train derailment

    Authorities believe a track obstruction could have been the cause of the deadly Amtrak train derailment in Washington state. Footage from two weeks ago show a fracking protest on the railroad tracks.

    Only 31 percent of Americans back Jerusalem as Israeli capital

    US President Donald Trump signed a declaration earlier this week officially announcing his intention to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. But his choice is not popular with Americans.

    US refugee admission signals drop as Trump pulls out of UN migration initiative

    Refugee admissions to the United States were down 83 percent in the first two months of the fiscal year for 2018 - October and November - compared to the first two months of of the previous fiscal year 2017.

    Democratic Party in the US disintegrating

    Former Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Donna Brazile has charged the Clinton campaign of essentially rigging the 2016 primaries as well as being responsible for a staffer's murder before the election.

    Twitter’s suspension of Trump account raises serious questions

    President Donald Trump's personal Twitter account was shut down on Thursday after a disgruntled Twitter employee had deactivated the account the company said. But does Twitter's explanation make sense?

    US Air Force preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers on alert

    The US Air Force at Barksdale Air Fore Base, near Bossier City, Louisiana — is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers back on 24-hour ready alert, a status not seen since the Cold War ended in 1991.

    Fake news beyond the headlines

    Mainstream media news content does no longer contain anything relevant beyond the screaming headlines designed to generate clicks.

    Go to archive