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Minnesota diners stunned by image of black man hanging at Joe's Crab Shack

The owners of a Joe's Crab Shack diner has apologized for the inclusion of the photo, along with a troubling joke, in the restaurant's table decor.

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    The Roseville restaurants manager told a diner that it may not be an isolated incident, Angela Davis reports for WCCO 4 News At 5, Thursday.
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A Minnesota diner is in hot water Friday after diners at Joe’s Crab Shack noticed a less than savory picture at their table.

The Minneapolis-area NAACP has demanded an apology from the Roseville, Minn., restaurant, for what diners say is the racist use of a 19th century photo of a hanging embedded in the table.

The tabletop photo shows white people watching the public execution of at least one African-American man in Groesbeck, Texas, in 1895. A hand drawn bubble above the condemned man's head read, "All I said was that I didn't like the gumbo."

The diners who discovered the photo, Tyrone Williams and Chauntyll Allen, were at Joe’s Crab Shack for Ms. Allen’s pre-birthday dinner when they noticed the photo.

They immediately summoned a manager. Although the man was apologetic, local news outlet KARE 11 reports that Mr. Williams and Allen were aghast at the restaurant’s choices.

“This type of blatant racism should not be tolerated in this country, or in our local and national eating establishments,” Williams told reporters. “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."

Allen agreed, saying, "Seeing a picture of two black men being lynched was the last thing that I expected to see at what was supposed to be a family-friendly restaurant. As you can imagine, seeing that image ruined my appetite and my pre-birthday dinner. It is hard to believe that this type of racism is still going on in 2016.”

Some observers note that the term lynching means an extrajudicial hanging, where as the scene was apparently a legal hanging. 

Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis-area NAACP said the use of the photograph as part of restaurant decor unacceptable. “Obviously, the imagery and the joke were very egregious,” Ms. Levy-Pounds told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. “They lost their appetites.”

The NAACP hosted a press conference on Thursday and called on all Joe's Crab Shack restaurants around the country remove racially insensitive imagery from their decor, as well as make a donation to a local organization for African American children and teenagers.

The chief operating officer of the Ignite Restaurant Group, the restaurant group that owns Joe’s Crab Shack, issued a public statement of apology.

"We take this matter very seriously, and the photo in question was immediately removed,” said David Catalano. “We sincerely apologize to our guests who were disturbed by the image and we look forward to continuing to serve the Roseville community.”

The Ignite Restaurant Group also offered Williams and Allen a free meal and gift certificates, although they reportedly turned the company down.

[Editor's note: The original story didn't accurately convey the nature of the execution, which appears to be legal.]

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