A Joe's Crab Shack restaurant in Minnesota has come under fire after two diners noticed that one of the photographs embedded in a tabletop depicted a crowd of white people observing the hanging of a black man.
Tyrone Williams and Chauntyll Allen went to Joe's Crab Shack in Roseville, Minnesota, on Thursday to celebrate a birthday when they spotted the photo on their table.
The image appears to show a crowd of white people observing the hanging of at least one black person. The caption at the bottom of the photo reads, "Hanging at Groesbeck, Texas on April 12, 1895."
Across the top of the photo is text inside of a speech bubble that reads, "All I said was, 'I don't like the gumbo!'" implying that the man was being hanged for the comment he made about the food.
When Williams posted the image to Facebook, he described it as a lynching.
In a press conference held the next day outside the restaurant, Williams said that the Joe's Crab Shack manager was understanding and apologetic in his response, and added that he would work to remove the table as soon as possible.
After they left the restaurant, Williams and Allen called the Minneapolis NAACP; their close friend, Nekima Levy-Pounds, is the chapter president.
Levy-Pounds told BuzzFeed News that they sounded "distraught" on the phone and had told her they'd lost their appetites after seeing the photo.
Allen said the manager called back after they left the restaurant and tried to clarify that the photo depicted a public execution, not a lynching.
She then informed him of the history of lynchings in the United States, and how black Americans were often falsely accused of small crimes to justify the "glorified image" of their deaths.
"These tables are uniquely made," Levy-Pounds said, "so it shows that there was some intentionality on the part of the person who designed them."
Watch the full press conference here.
The Joe's Crab Shack in Roseville has since removed the table. An executive at Ignite Restaurant Group, the company that owns and operates the chain, has issued an apology.
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.
The City of Roseville released a statement Friday condemning the photo.
"The City of Roseville was shocked and saddened to learn of the racist imagery being openly displayed at the Roseville location of national restaurant chain Joe's Crab Shack," the statement read.
"This type of display is wholly unacceptable and unwelcome in the City of Roseville."
Williams and Allen said that the Joe's Crab Shack manager offered them a free meal for their trouble, but they turned it down.
"We will no longer be eating at any Joe's Crab Shack that supports white supremacy and racism," Williams said.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Williams and Allen for additional comment.
Tamerra Griffin is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based Nairobi, Kenya.
Contact Tamerra Griffin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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