Tyrone Williams and Chauntyll Allen entered a Joe’s Crab Shack in Roseville, Minn. for a pre-birthday dinner. Once seated, they were shocked to find an image depicting a large group of white people watching a public hanging of a black man. The image was titled “Hanging at Groesbeck, Texas on April 12, 1895.” A speech bubble in the corner read: “All I said was ‘I didn’t like the gumbo,’” attributed to the man about to be hanged.
Williams notified the manager, who immediately apologized and offered a free meal. Williams, who “felt sick to [his] stomach and stressed out since seeing that image on the table,” declined the free food. Both Allen and Williams left the restaurant and notified the local chapter of the NAACP.
In a news conference organized by the NAACP, Allen’s said she was “appalled.” The image was embedded inside the table and altered with the quip in the speech bubble, so someone had purposely selected the image as decoration and chose to make light of it’s racially-charged imagery. Nekima Levy-Pounds, President of the Minneapolis NAACP said:
“This disturbing incident that occurred at Joe’s Crab Shack, demonstrates that racism is still alive and well in this country. 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.”
At the new conference, Allen expressed concern that more racist imagery is present in other Joe’s Crab Shack locations. In a statement to the Washington Post, Minneapolis NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds said that “We have not seen a commitment … that they will examine the decor in all of its restaurants and remove racist material.”
Since the incident, the table has been removed and Ignite Restaurant Group, the parent company for Joe’s Crab Shack, has apologized for the image, stating:
“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.”