Joe’s Crab Shack has been forced to issue an apology after trimming their tables with a black and white photo of an 1895 hanging of a black man in Texas. The lynching photo – embedded inside a number of tables at a Minneapolis Crab Shack location – has sparked outrage among diners.
According to USA Today on March 11, Tyrone Williams and Chauntyll Allen, who are both African Americans, first noticed the tasteless décor while preparing to eat at Joe’s Crab Shack in Roseville on Wednesday. The photo shows a number of wagons pulled up to a gallows platform, while a number of white individuals witness the execution of at least one black man. The caption reads: “Hanging at Groesbeck, Texas on April 12, 1895.”
Joe’s added a dialogue bubble. The individual being lynched is seen saying: “All I said was I don’t like the gumbo.”
“Although the manager was apologetic about the lynching depiction, that does not change the fact that this sickening image of black men being lynched was intentionally embedded inside of a table,” Williams said. “This type of blatant racism should not be tolerated in this country, or in our local and national eating establishments. I have felt sick to my stomach and stressed out since seeing that image on the table where I was planning to eat my food.”
Allen agreed. “Seeing a picture of two black men being lynched was the last thing that I expected to see at what was supposed to be a family-friendly restaurant,” she said.
According to USA Today, the President of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP said the incident “demonstrates that racism is still alive and well in this country.” Nekima Levy-Pounds said: “It is sickening to know that someone would make a mockery of black men being savagely lynched and then use that imagery for decorative purposes in a restaurant.”
The NAACP is now demanding an “immediate public apology” and “immediate removal of any and all lynching or otherwise racially-offensive imagery” from the restaurants. They are also urging the company to make a “donation to a local community-based organization that serves African American youths and teenagers.”
David Catalano, the Chief Operating Officer of Ignite Restaurant Group, Joe’s Crab Shack parent company, apologized for the décor and said the imagea have been removed. “We sincerely apologize to our guests who were disturbed by the image and we look forward to continuing to serve the Roseville community,” Catalano said in a statement.
Adds the Daily News: “According to records from the Death Penalty Information Center, the man being hung was Richard Burleson. Law journals from the time say that he was convicted of killing a man with a rock in 1894.”
Joe’s Crab Shack is a beach-themed seafood restaurant with 138 restaurants located in 35 states. Twenty-eight of those locations are in Texas.