Joe’s Crab Shack is under fire after a couple found an offensive image showing a lynching used as table art at one of the chain’s locations in Minnesota.
Tyrone Williams and Chauntyll Allen went to the Roseville location Wednesday night to celebrate Chauntyll’s birthday but left before their food arrived because the upsetting image ruined their appetite.
When they sat down, the couple noticed one of the pictures used as table art depicted a real-life lynching – and that the artist who made the table added a ‘jokey’ comment to make the image even more offensive.
The photo shows a crowd of white people gathered around the public execution of a black man. The original caption reads ‘Hanging at Groesbeck, Texas, on April 12, 1895’.
A speech bubble was added by whoever chose the picture for the restaurant, and has the lynched black man saying ‘All I said was that “I didn’t like the gumbo!”‘
‘Me and Chauntyll, we just felt sick and confused. It was just sickening,’ Williams said at a Thursday press conference outside of the Joe’s Crab Shack location.
When Williams and Allen later complained to the location’s manager, he apologized and immediately removed the table from use.
‘When we talked to the manager, he said that he was pretty sure that these tables were designed by a particular person,’ she said, ‘and if that particular person had the mindset to pick that particular picture, I’m sure they picked quite a few more that are similar.’
The couple informed the state NAACP, which is now demanding action be done to right the wrong. They say the chain needs to make a public apology and make a donation to a community-based organization that serves African-American youths and teenagers,
Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP, believes that the image was placed there ‘deliberately’ and says the chain must make sure all other possible offensive images are removed from their restaurants.
Since news of the offensive image broke, the COO of the restaurant group which owns Joe’s Crab Shack has issued a public apology, but it’s unclear if the company has donated to a charity, as the NAACP requested.
‘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 said in a statement.
Joe’s Crab Shack corporate also issued a separate apology statement.
The statement reads: ‘We understand one of the photos used in our table decor 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.’