Seafood restaurant chain Joe's Crab Shack has issued an apology for using a photograph of the public lynching of a black man on a table in their Roseville, Minnesota branch.
“We sincerely apologize to our guests who were disturbed by the image and we look forward to continuing to serve the Roseville community,” David Catalano, COO of Ignite Restaurant Group, the parent company of Joe's Crab Shack, said in a statement. He also stated that the image was immediately removed and that the company fully understands that the picture used at their Roseville location was offensive.
The image was noticed by friends Tyrone Williams and Chauntyll Allen last Wednesday. They were in the restaurant to have an early birthday dinner with another friend. It was when they were seated that they found the picture embedded into the table.
To make matters worse, the picture "had a cartoon character saying, 'All I said was I didn't like the gumbo' in a joking manner," Williams said at a press conference held last Thursday, hosted by the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP.
Allen and Williams also said that the manager of the restaurant did apologize for the picture and also offered them a free meal, but they chose to decline.
"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, then added, "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 two would later find out that the picture in the table was taken at the public execution of Richard Burleson, a black man who was sentenced to be hanged at the age of 21 for murdering and robbing a white man at Groesbeck, Texas in 1895.
A spokeswoman for the Death Penalty Information Center did state that, while the execution was legal, it is important to remember that 'death penalty laws' were very different from what it is today.
Williams and Allen, together with Minneapolis NAACP, stand in their stance that the photograph is that of a lynching.
Minneapolis President Nekima Levy-Pounds said that, while the apology was a 'great start,' it is 'not enough' and it did "not go far enough in addressing the concerns we've raised."
She also said, "We've received indication from numerous people around the country that similar imagery exists at other Joe's Crab Shack locations," and that they want "the immediate removal of all racist, offensive imagery removed from tables across the country."