Black Detroit firefighters defend white recruit fired over watermelon

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Black Detroit firefighters defend white recruit fired over watermelon

However, according to Fox2Detroit, the gift did not go off well at the fire station as about 90 percent of the people working there are black.

A probationary firefighter was sacked from his new post in Detroit for what his commissioner called "offensive and racially insensitive work behavior" when he brought a watermelon in to work.

But majority were African-American, and some found the watermelon - long viewed as a racist symbol - offensive.

But he definitely did offend some of them.

Pattison reportedly said the watermelon - which was delivered whole and not served - was meant to be a gift, not a joke.

"There is zero tolerance for discriminatory behavior inside the Detroit Fire Department".

Second Battalion Chief Shawn McCarty explained to the news station that it was a tradition for incoming firefighters to bring a little something for their fellow firefighters, although it is not mandatory.

"Between what he did and losing his job, there were a few things that could have been done", McCarty said.

A petition on change.org to get Pattinson reinstated has generated more than 2,000 signatures.

"You would have to say it was probably a bad call", said Engine 55 firefighter Patrick Trout, local media reported.

However, a number of black firefighters from the same department reacted to the incident with a big show of support for Pattinson, describing him as an "amazing dude" who had "good intentions".

"Just wanna let everyone know he's a real unbelievable dude and it was all good intentions", the man wrote. "And our ENTIRE class (is) supporting him in this".

But after several African-American firefighters complained, station bosses fired Pattison for "unsatisfactory work behavior". "Stay up brother. #DFD".

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