A Minnesota restaurant has come under fire for having a table decorated with a picture depicting the hanging of a black man in the late 1800s.
Tyrone Williams and Chauntyll Allen arrived at a Joe's Crab Shack in Roseville, Minnesota, Wednesday evening to celebrate Allen's birthday, according to KARE-TV. But after sitting down at one of the tables, the two customers were shocked to discover a black and white photo embedded on the table that appeared to depict a group of white men gathering to witness a public execution of at least one black man. The picture, which was titled, "Hanging at Groesbeck, Texas on April 12th 1895," also included a bubble caption coming from the executioner's platform that read, "All I said was, 'I don't like the gumbo!"
Williams and Allen were disturbed by what they saw and left the restaurant before eating any food.
"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 told KARE. "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."
The picture's presence in one of Joe's Crab Shack's nearly 100 locations led to questions concerning whether or not the picture — or others like it — existed in other restaurants.
"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," Allen told KARE. "As you can imagine, seeing that image ruined my appetite and my pre-birthday dinner. It is hard to believe that this type of racism is still going on in 2016."
Williams and Allen got the Minneapolis NAACP involved in the situation, and they demanded an immediate public apology from Joe's Crab Shack's corporate offices, the immediate removal of "any and all lynching or otherwise racially-offensive imagery" from all of the chain's restaurants and a donation to a local community-based organization that serves African-American youths, KARE reported.
"This disturbing incident that occurred at Joe's Crab Shack demonstrates that racism is still alive and well in this country," Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP told KARE. "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."
David Catalano, the COO of Ignite Restaurant Group, the parent company of Joe's Crab Shack, released a statement in which he apologized for the "offensive" imagery:
We understand one of the photos used in our table décor at our Joe’s Crab Shack location in Roseville, MN was offensive. We take this matter very seriously, and the photo in question was immediately removed. We sincerely apologize to our guests who were disturbed by the image and we look forward to continuing to serve the Roseville community.
(H/T: New York Daily News)
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