Two Black Lives Matter activists stopped by their local Joe's Crab Shack in Minnesota for dinner and were seated at a table that had a picture of a historic public hanging embedded into its top. The image elicited a strong reaction from the couple who took a photo and quickly posted it to social media to ask friends and followers to flood the restaurant's corporate offices to demand an apology.
Tyrone Williams and Chauntyll Allen described the photo as a "lynching" and believed it to be inappropriate at a place "supposed to be a family-friendly restaurant," the woman said. Williams stated that it was racist to display the photo:
This type of blatant racism should not be tolerated in this country, or in our local and national eating establishments. 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.
"Seeing a picture of two black men being lynched was the last thing that I expected to see," Allen added.
This prompted the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP to join the couple in demanding an apology from the restaurant. Chapter president Nekima Levy-Pounds said this incident "demonstrates that racism is still alive and well in this country." She added:
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.
Joe's Crab Shack did issue an apology and ordered the table removed.
Here is the image in question. It's really hard to make out any details of who or what exactly is happening in the photograph:
The word bubble states: "All I said was, 'I didn't like the gumbo.'"
As it turns out, this photo is of the last public hanging in this Texas town. The man being hanged was Richard Burleson, a freed slave who had bludgeoned to death a white man after robbing him of a $20 gold piece. He was convicted a year prior in a trial and sentenced to death by hanging.
The murder victim was James McKinnon, who had offered Burleson a ride in his wagon, according to his great-grandson Tom McKinnon, who researched the trial. In an interesting side note, we were able to find a Flickr account that claimed to be the great grandson of McKinnon with a posted picture of the actual rock/murder weapon he said has been in his family since the crime took place. See here.
Whether the photo of an execution is a proper thing to be placed on a table where people dine is one left for individual debate. But there is no question that a public execution by trial is a far cry from an innocent black person being lynched by an angry mob. And certainly, displaying a photo of a historical event is by any means a racist act. But that doesn't matter to BLM activists like Allen or Williams. Even when they found out that the person being hanged in the photo was a convicted murderer, they showed no sympathy for the white man that was killed, and proceeded to hashtag their protest post, #BlackLivesMatter and mocked "nice white people:"