(WJBK) — DETROIT — Earlier this month, 41-year-old Robert Pattison went to introduce himself to his fellow firefighters at Engine 55 at Joy and Southfield in Detroit. Second Battalion Chief Shawn McCarty calls it a tradition for firefighters.

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

And Pattison, a probationary firefighter, decided to bring a watermelon wrapped in a pink ribbon. We’re told some African-American firefighters were instantly offended, since 90 percent of the people who work at Engine 55 are black.

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