A decorative table with a photo showing two black men being lynched in Texas has been removed from Joe’s Crab Shack in Roseville after the Minneapolis NAACP called a press conference outside the chain restaurant Thursday afternoon.
The NAACP says Wednesday night two African American diners, Tyrone Williams and Chauntyll Allen were about to eat at the restaurant when they spotted the photo embedded inside of a customized table. The caption next to one of the black lynching victims read “All I said was that I didn’t like the gumbo.”
After googling the names of one of the lynching victims in the picture and finding out that the photo was indeed legitimate, Williams and Allen contacted the restaurant manager who apologized and offered them a free meal. They turned it down. “We will no longer be eating at any Joe’s Crab Shack that supports White Supremacy and racism,” said Williams.
“We felt sick and confused,” Williams told a press conference outside the restaurant.
“I don’t understand why they think this is some kind of joke, the trauma we endured on our black body,” said Allen.
Allen, who is an African American studies major, immediately recognized the photo as a lynching. “After we left the manager did call back and he wanted to try and clear up the situation by saying that this was an execution rather than a lynching. I had to somewhat explain to him that back in those days they often put small crimes on African Americans so that they could justify this glorified image that they were about to produce in front of people.”
The problem is probably not limited to just the Roseville restaurant. Allan says her friend in Los Angeles told her she had seen a picture of a different lynching displayed in another Joe’s Crab Shack restaurant table.
Allen says if the person who designs the tables for the restaurants had the “mindset to pick that particular picture, I’m sure they picked quite a few more that were similar. They want to uphold the white supremacy ideal and therefor they’re going to spread it throughout the nation. It’s not just going to be in one table in one spot.”
The Minneapolis NAACP is demanding an immediate apology from the corporate offices of Joe’s Crab Shack, an immediate removal of any racial-offensive imagery from its restaurants in Minnesota and around the world, and a donation to a local community-based organization that serves African American youths and teens.
A manager at the restaurant told Allen that the offending table has been removed. The restaurant manager also told The UpTake that information about the incident has been passed along to Ignite Restaurant Group corporate offices in Texas.
ABC News contacted the Death Penalty Information Center about the lynching and it is documented as a legal execution. However a spokeswoman for the center told ABC News that it’s important to note that “death penalty laws” were very different from today’s. The center is a nonprofit organization promoting informed discussion of the death penalty.
ABC News says Williams, Allen and the Minneapolis NAACP said they stand by calling the photograph a “lynching.”
“This disturbing incident that occurred at Joe’s Crab Shack, demonstrates that racism is alive and well in this country,” said Minneapolis NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds. “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.”
Pastor Danny Givens of Above Every Name Ministries added some perspective. “We would never walk into any franchise establishment and see jokes depicting images from the holocaust . You would never see that”