ROSEVILLE, Minn. (KMSP) - A historical photo of a black man getting hanged was used as decor on a table at Joe's Crab Shack in Roseville, Minn. After an offended patron posted it on social media, the restaurant released an apology.
"We just felt sick and confused," said Tyrone Williams of Minneapolis. "It was just sickening. It was disgusting."
Williams and friend Chauntyll Allen saw the photo embedded under laminate in their table. It seemed to capture an image of a public hanging of Richard Burleson in Texas in 1895. The photo included a cartoon bubble over his head saying, "All I said was I don't like the gumbo."
Allen and Williams weren't laughing. After documenting the photo on their cell phones, they complained to management and left the restaurant without eating. Thursday afternoon, they were joined by the NAACP in condemning Joe's Crab Shack for allowing such imagery in their national chain of restaurants.
"It's clear it was a lynching," Allen said. "When I see 1895, pretty sure it was a lynching during the Ida B. Wells time when a lot of lynchings were happening with people glorifying it."
David Catalano, Chief Operating Officer of Ignite Restaurant Group, released a statement to Fox 9 on Thursday apologizing for the "unacceptable" photo: "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."
City of Roseville statement
"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 city condemns this type of display in the strongest possible terms and calls on Joe's Crab Shack to remove any and all racist imagery not only from its Roseville location, but all of its restaurants nationwide. This type of display is wholly unacceptable and unwelcome in the City of Roseville."
Facebook post from Tyrone Williams