Lynching Is a Joke at Joe’s Crab Shack

A Minnesota outlet of the seafood chain restaurant is under fire for displaying a photo of a black man’s hanging as table decor.

03.11.16 6:35 PM ET

On Thursday, the Minneapolis NAACP exposed the racist interiors at the Joe’s Crab Shack in suburban Roseville and demanded an apology.

Tyrone Williams, a diner who helped to reveal the bigoted picture, said he and a friend were seated at another table Wednesday night to celebrate her birthday. But when they asked to be moved to a booth, they got a side of shocking imagery embedded into the tabletop.

The vintage photograph is dated “Hanging at Groesbeck, Texas on April 12th 1895” at the bottom and appears to show a mob of white people gathered round to witness the hanging of at least one black man, the Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported.

A cartoon speech balloon pasted onto the picture reads, “All I said was ‘I don’t like the gumbo!’”

Williams and his fellow diner, Chauntyll Allen, researched the photo and discovered it was an authentic image of a public execution for murder. Still, Williams calls the historical snapshot a lynching, saying it was typical to pin crimes on black men, the Pioneer Press reported.

“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, according to KARE 11.

“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,” he added.

Allen said the photo ruined her birthday dinner, and it “was the last thing that I expected to see at what was supposed to be a family-friendly restaurant.”

“It is hard to believe that this type of racism is still going on in 2016,” she said.

The Minneapolis NAACP demanded a public apology and immediate removal of “of any and all lynching or otherwise racially offensive imagery” from the national chain’s restaurants, as well as a donation to a local organization that serves black teens.

Joe’s Crab Shack, a beach-themed seafood chain based in Houston, apologized for the decorating affront.

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“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,” said David Catalano, chief operating officer at Ignite Restaurant Group, the Joe’s Crab Shack parent company.

For Williams, speaking out has drawn even more racism. He posted on Facebook on Friday that he woke to 100 hate-filled messages.

“You’re [sic] hero was a murderer who was legally hung. I’m sure u happy OJ wasn’t convicted too,” one screenshot showed. The message called him a “rabble rousing petulant perpetual victim piece of shit.”

Critics were equally horrified by the table trappings.

“We would never walk into any franchise establishment and see jokes depicting images from the Holocaust. You would never see that,” Pastor Danny Givens of Above Every Name Ministries told The UpTake.

He added, “I’m sure if there were pictures of Jews it would be a whole different ballgame.”