Photo in Joe’s Crab Shack decor was a hanging, not a lynching

There’s no question that making a joke out of a hanging, as Joe’s Crab Shack did with a picture of a black man being hanged, is offensive and stupid.

“It’s a very disturbing and ugly part of American history,” Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP, told MPR’s Mukhtar Ibrahim in his excellent story today.

“They are trying to make a joke out of our black bodies being lynched and I had a real problem with that,” said Chauntyll Allen, a community activist, who first raised the objection to the picture.

Allen is right, of course. Hangings make for poor jokes.

What’s this picture about? It’s a poor representation of the lynching of African Americans because it wasn’t a lynching. It was an execution. That obviously doesn’t excuse the ugliness of the use of the photo, but a lynching — this one, for example — is a murder without a trial. The history depicted in the photograph isn’t a lynching, at least some historians don’t think so.

Apparently, the title of the photograph — Last Hanging in Brown County — is also wrong.

The hanging took place in Limestone County,Texas according to historian Clay Riley.

mckinnonOn May 3, 1894, a pioneer resident of Groesbeck, James Garrett McKinnon, was robbed and bludgeoned to death with a stone. A man was arrested for the death, tried and convicted. The sentence was hanging. Prior to 1903, death penalties were performed in the county seats of the respective counties. After that date, the State of Texas carried out all executions at the Huntsville Penitentiary.

On April 12, 1895, at Groesbeck, Texas, Limestone County, Richard Burleson was hanged for the crime for which he had been convicted.

Did Burleson receive a fair trial or was he hanged because he was black? It’s hard to say; there isn’t a record of the events of the trial. [See comments section for background on the trial]

But of the 10 executions in Texas between 1895 and 1910, seven of the convicted were black.

A relative of McKinnon’s researched the case 10 years ago and said Burleson was a freed slave who robbed his grandfather of a $20 gold piece. The two had been seen earlier in the day.

“James offered Burleson a ride in his wagon, Burleson accepted, then clubbed James over the head with a rock,” Tom McKinnon of Arizona wrote of his research. The victim was his great grandfather, he said.

  • Jeff

    A correction (and not sure that it matters) but according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_people_executed_in_Texas#Executions_from_1819 there were 101 executions in Texas the decade from 1890-1899, 65% were black. Compare that to the latest decade 2000-2009, 248 executions, 40% black.

  • Anna

    If only we could rewrite history but unfortunately we can’t. We can only act in the present with compassion and understanding.

    The Confederate flag is part of history. Removing it from any and all public view is obliterating a part of history. It is the same as pretending it doesn’t exist.
    There are those who deny the Holocaust ever happened just as there are those who deny climate change and global warming.
    You have posted before, Bob that many who post online think their view should be the world view. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. To malign someone else because they share a different view or to insist that they must agree with you only creates dissonance and anger.
    You cannot legislate prejudice and racism out of existence. Eliminating prejudice and racism starts at home. A child learns what they live. If the parent has racist and stereotypical views, the child will too.
    Respect is earned, not demanded.
    People are willing to follow Donald Trump because they are tired of PC and stuffing down how they truly feel. He’s probably one of the most politically incorrect people on the planet right now.
    It was a very inappropriate joke but it isn’t a reason to tar and feather the offender and run them out of town.

    • That’s not true at all. Removing it from public view isn’t because of what it represented. It’s because of what it represents now.

      History happened. And there’s nothing you can do about it. It happened. We don’t need to lynch blacks now to understand we lynched them in our history. We don’t need to have a mass execution of Native Americans in Mankato to know we had the largest mass execution in American history right here in our enlightened state. It’s history. It happened.

      But the Confederate Flag was approrpiated in the early 60 by governors and others who were opposed to desegregation. That’s what it symbolizes today, no matter what anyone thinks it symbolized a hundred years ago.

      That’s history. It exists .

    • lindblomeagles

      Sorry Bob, but your explanation, while great, needs more oompf. Anna, you wrote “People are willing to follow Donald Trump because they are tired of PC and stuffing down how they truly feel.” The message you conveyed here, whether you intended too or not, is white people are tired of not being able to air racist comments, which, according to your statement, is how they truly feel. If you believe that Anna, you should ask those people “Why do you want to be a racist?” There are several examples of Black men and women who don’t deserve to work around or receive racist comments, just like there are several examples of White men and women who AREN’T racist. If you can’t ask yourself or your friends this question, you are not interested in political correctness. Political correctness isn’t JUST reserved for whites who want to say the N-word. Political correctness affects ALL AMERICANS, including people who wish to demean you, AS A White WOMAN, for the successes and gains your group has made since the Civil Rights Era. You also wrote “there’s no reason to tar and feather the offender and run them out of town!” There are three things wrong with this statement Anna. 1) Who ever made this joke LIED about the photo, INTENTIONALLY. If someone took your photo today, WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION, and used it to make an insensitive joke without your knowledge, that would be a crime. 2) As a white person, YOU HAVE THE LUXURY of never being attacked as a racial group by anyone here in the United States. Even the British didn’t round your ancestors up, string you up in a tree, and celebrated your death. They may have taxed your ancestors, quartered troops in their home, and closed off Boston Harbor, but the British never enacted the kind of ethnic cleansing lynching represents. 3) The offender KNEW EXACTLY WHAT HE WAS DOING. He didn’t care about children who eat at Joe’s anymore than he cared about the Black people he was making fun of. And he didn’t care that the picture was fake. He sought a means to make a statement and hoped to get white people saying or thinking, “Miss those good ole days.” I don’t know about you, but sanctioning individual killings of anybody, even in a joking manner, just because you don’t like them based on the color of their skin, to me, is a bad idea. And if you remember anything from the Dillion Roofs case, or, for that matter, ISIS attacks in Paris, France, all it takes is a few people, such as yourself, to take the joke seriously enough to harm others. Bad idea Anna. Bad idea.

      • Anna

        Lindblomeagle, no one intentionally lied about anything. There was no label on the restaurant photo that said “This a picture of a lynching and we think it is very funny.”

        I grew up in the Deep South during desegregation and it was not pretty. My hometown is still segregated and growing more so.

        Martin Luther King, Jr. would be appalled at the behavior of some of today’s black protesters. He never shut down any event, blocked a highway or threatened a police officer. He accomplished what he did through intelligent conversation and discourse and a willingness to listen to the other side. He did it through classic civil disobedience and a dogged persistence.

        Martin Luther King, Jr. wasn’t perfect. He had his demons and his faults like any man but he believed in the equality of all men, black or white, African or Asian, Muslim or Christian, Hispanic or Native American.

        The abolition of slavery did nothing to abolish racism. it is still with us and the re-emergence of it will tear this country apart just as it did 56 years ago.

        It’s already started and once the genie of hate and violence escapes the bottle there is no putting it back.

        One way or the other we are going to reap what we have sown. We have met the enemy and it is us.

  • Rob

    I’d say the odds of a black person getting a fair trial in that time and place were approximately zero – a lynching in all but name.

    • Glam GP

      So you are saying he definitely didn’t do the murder then? Based on the facts given we have no idea whether his trial and/or his punishment was fair or not. Therefore it’s factually incorrect to just assume it must have been the same as a lynching based on the races involved. I personally would be very interested to know more about this case in particular but not going to buy into blanket statements that suggest no person of color ever committed a murder and they were all framed. For all I know he may have been caught with the murder weapon and the stolen money right in his hands.

      • Betty Eyer

        Pro Tip. When you start a sentence with “So you are saying…” chances are really good that….

        ….no, that’s not what they are saying
        ….you just created a strawman
        ….you are being a troll

        • Is this a Minnesota thing? This is one of the first things I noticed when I moved here 24 years ago. Is it because of the dishonest nature of Minnesota passive aggressive so people don’t have the desire to look at the literal nature of statements?

          • colbey

            maybe it’s some weird offshoot of “midwestern niceness.” you know, we don’t want to offend, so sometimes we use these strange intro-phrasings. which can occasionally be passive-aggressive and can strike some other people as dishonest/disingenuine. especially those who haven’t grown up in the culture.

            and can also be adopted by trolls, as Betty properly notes.

    • There is the fact of what we know to be true and the facts of what we think to be true. But the language is the language and what we think isn’t true because we think it. It’s true because it’s true. Or not.

      The language has to be precise because…well… it just does.

      Take the case of those who favor the right to abortion. Some might characterize them as “pro abortion”. But they may not be. But the term is used inaccurately and has become accepted. If you favor the right to legalized abortion, you favor abortion. Period. It’s a small distinction, perhaps, but it’s a distinction that’s important.

      The same is true here. There’s plenty of evidence that blacks were lynched for nothing more than being black. That’s indisputable. But that doesn’t mean that anyone who was hanged legally who was black was hanged because they were black.

      Again, it might be a small distinction for some. But it’s an important one.

      I also think that throwing around “lynching” to a hanging merely because the person being hanged was black, disturbs the power of the word.

      • Rob

        I’m not “throwing around” anything. Note that I didn’t say he was hanged just because he was black;
        I merely observed that the odds of any particular black person getting a fair trial back then were slim to none. So IF Burleson didn’t get a fair trial (was there, for example, a jury of his peers? did he have effective assistance of legal counsel?), it was tantamount to lynching.

        • Right. in other words,if it was a lynching, then it was a lynching. The use of the term still requires substantial to justify its use.

          • Betty Eyer

            I think he did a good job of justifying the use of the word.

          • Obviously, I disagree. In order to be a lynching, it has to actually BE a lynching. At the very least, it has to have some evidence of being a lynching. It can’t be a lynching just because someone thinks it HAS to be a lynching.

            One could, I think, evaluate the probability of it being a lynching, but one can’t do that without having any knowledge of the context and circumstances surrounding the specific hanging taking place.

          • another black man

            Wheather lynched or hung another black person is dead at the hands of inorant whites who in those days would hang a black person at the drop of a hat.

          • No doubt. It’s hard to get good data on the court experiences by race. The closest I could find was Washington County, which I believe is east of Austin…or north of where this execution took place. But only up until 1889, or six years before this case.

            The data covers the period right after the Civil War, when lynchings were , apparently, at their highest.

            There’s some interesting data here:

            http://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2970&context=cklawreview

          • Know It all

            No, Richard Burleson was executed for robbing and murdering his own great grand father. His family turned him in.

            We still do public executions, but now use the electric chair or most common lethal injection.

          • Richard Schwalb

            If you read the article above carefully, it doesn’t say that Burleson robbed his own great-grandfather. It says that the victims’s great-grandson Tom McKinnon (not related to Burleson) researched the case about 10 years ago (2006) and believes that Burleson was guilty of murdering Tom’s great-grandfather (James McKinnon) when he robbed him of ten dollars.

          • Rick Fitz

            Don’t be that guy.

            The man was executed for a crime that he was tied to by intimate proximity, behavior and evidence.

            Are young black men killed and jailed for trumped up BS? Is our government racist? Absolutely- our government and police state are racist to the core due to the drug wars and bad effects of welfare.

            Google “Ron Paul” and racism, or listen to your elder brothers like Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell.

          • Rick Fitz

            Words don’t matter anymore, only feelings and personal narratives of how events affect THEM. SJWs, socialists, Trump supporters…

        • Know It all

          Yes I looked it up, he was hung after a trial. He robbed and murdered his own great grand father, and his family turned him in.

          • Richard Schwalb

            No, it doesn’t say that Burleson robbed his own great-grandfather. It says that the victims’s great-grandson Tom McKinnon (not related to Burleson) researched the case about 10 years ago (2006) and believes that Burleson was guilty of murdering Tom’s great-grandfather (James McKinnon) when he robbed him of ten dollars.

          • Richard Schwalb

            One correction – it was a $20 gold piece, not $10. Victim and convicted murderer were not related. McKinnon was a white man, there is a drawing of him in the article above. Some of the McKinnon family members have posted about this incident in Flickr, where 1 family member claims that a “family historian” in McKinnon GA has the rope that was used to hang “the black man” who she believes murdered her grandfather. https://www.flickr.com/photos/tom-margie/1041731789

    • Stephen Williams

      Plenty of whites were hanged as a part of judicial execution. Did the dirt bag commit the crime?? Sounds like he did. If he did, he deserves the rope. You think his color gives him a pass?

    • Bingo

      Do you believe that of all black people executed, approximately zero of them had committed a crime that would have gotten a white men executed?

  • Edsel Brewers

    Regardless of any of the circumstances of this case, its in very bad taste to have such a photo in a restaurant with a tacky cartoon inserted in it. The man/men involved died, nothing appetizing about that at all.

  • Postal Customer

    So if you like good food, good fun, and a whole lotta crazy crap on the walls, then come on down to Uncle Moe’s Family Feedbag

  • Postal Customer

    Why would you even use that photo for restaurant decor? An execution? Why??

    • Molon Labe

      You’d have to be purposefully sitting at THAT table – with an election back-scatter microscope in hand, your BLM Grievance Magnetometer pegged to hi-gain, chugging from an uncorked half-consumed bottle of Left Bank whine, MSM scribblers at the ready, Dave, Bob Collins & other noncy commenters pouncing… for this non-story get any traction whatsoever. Normal folks have been spilling clam chowder & warm beer on that table for years. YOU, from afar, are outraged. I on the other hand, see a blurry old photo obscured by shrimp tails, cracker crumbs, and crab shells. No visible victim. Let’s drive business down at Joe’s for obvious Racist insensitivity towards their delicate customers – so the wait staff all lose their jobs! That’s the ticket. The Left crushes business AND working stiffs at every opportunity.
      μολὼν λαβέ

      • Postal Customer

        Dude, I’m not saying that I’ll avoid this place for their poorly-chosen, arguably racist decor, but likely just ignorant decision. I’ll avoid it because the fare is inedible. I mean, racism is one thing, but deep-fried goldfish? Please.

      • ten17eighty1

        Um… it clearly says “Hanging at Groesbeck, Texas on April 12, 1895” on the bottom of the picture in capital letters, so unless you’re illiterate, it wouldn’t be difficult to spot.

      • John Dawson

        uh…? the only stiffs is the black man who was about to be lynched and the alleged murder victim.
        It was probably a relative of the prison guards who hung him.
        Execution or Lynching the photo has NO PLACE in a restaurant duh?

  • BaronVonBlog

    I just found his appeal which outlines the evidence against him. Joe’s should know better. I wonder what other offensive stuff they’ve mounted on their tables across the country!

    https://casetext.com/case/burleson-v-the-state

    • This is really fascinating. This graph:

      Appellant claims in his application that he won the money found on his person at the time of his arrest, at gaming, from two other negroes who passed by while he was at work. That he had never seen them before nor since; nor did he know their names or hear them name each other; nor did he know where they lived. The money so found corresponded with that seen in possession of deceased immediately before the homicide. We think the application presents neither diligence nor sufficient grounds for a continuance. But apart from the improbability of the statement, appellant admits on trial, that when he was first arrested he denied having any money in his possession, and when the money was found he claimed to have gotten it from his employer, and when this was shown to be false, claimed he got from his wife, and not until the trial does he claim to have won the money from two strangers. We do not think the court erred in overruling the motion for a continuance.

      The testimony is circumstantial, but is sufficient to sustain the verdict. It shows that deceased was in possession of money, and defendant was present and saw the money when deceased paid for some purchases. Deceased started out southeast from town and was followed by defendant, who lived west from town, and the parties were seen three miles from town, the defendant still following deceased, who was driving a wagon, and defendant on foot with a rock in his hand. Deceased was murdered and robbed. Shortly after, and on the same day, defendant was arrested, and money corresponding with that seen in possession of deceased shortly before was found on defendant, who denied he had any money, and then gave conflicting accounts; and upon clothes found at his house were fresh blood-spots. The record presents a cold, bloody murder, for the purpose of robbery.

      • MisterHippity

        The evidence is entirely circumstantial, and should never have been enough to sentence a man to death. And the most damning evidence seems very fishy to me. I’m skeptical, for example, that a witness realy saw the defendant following the man’s cart “with a rock in his hand.” That sounds too conveniently incriminating, as well as illogical. If you were going to kill a man with a rock in order o steal his money, would you really just follow his cart down the road holding a rock? Woudln’t you instead grab a rock at the spot you planned to perform the murder, and hide? The only other significant evidence cited, “spots of fresh blood” on the clothes in his house, sounds very fishy too. Like a man who just bludgeouned sombody to death would leave blood-spattered clothes just lying around in his house to be found later? He wouldn’t have washed them? This sounds very much to me like the black guy got railroaded into a false conviction because they needed a confiction (a long Texas tradition, it seems).

        • Adrianne

          Since this was a relative of mine and I know the history of TEXAS and how blacks were killed on suspect ion I hardly think then the facts mattered or was there was a fair trial, they killed children for no reason that was the culture and that’s why can’t hardly believe my fathers brother was hung justly being lynched was more probable! The story was made up after the act as it is now, there were no cameras to confirm or deny. I don’t believe blacks www even freed back then. Or they hadn’t been told they were.

    • Dan

      “Other offensive stuff”… I was going to make a joke about something on their menu, but then I looked at their menu, and all it did was make me hungry for crab.

  • ForrestalMN

    It turns out the two complaining parties eating at the crab restaurant are active in the BLM movement, and were involved in the occupation at the 4th Precinct police station. They were mentioned in the BLM Minneapolis Facebook page. Can’t help but wonder if this is a sign that this table was known about and also how it made its way to the media. The story in the Star Tribune has the two of them them giving their opinion on Texas frontier Justice in the 1890s.

    • colbey

      i’m not sure how any of what you wrote is relevant to the issue of a restaurant using offensive “shtick.”

  • blinkin357

    What happened to free speech, especially when it’s historical facts. Those easily offended can dine somewhere else even though Joes is the best.

  • Phil Ford

    Does anyone know if you can actually identify the ethnicity of the guy getting hanged? I’ve looked at all the online versions of this photo and I can’t see whether he’s black, white, or anything else. I’m just asking, was it obvious to the average diner that the hanged was black? Why had no one noticed before?

    • Phil Ford

      Ah, a bit of googling reveals.. the two diners only found out this was a black man after googling it on their smartphones i.e. it was not readily apparent that this was a black man (much less a lynching).

      I suppose you could say the restaurant should have done its due diligence on the decor, but there’s no evidence that whoever made the table knew that it depicted a black person being hanged.

      Obviously if anyone has a closeup that clearly shows it was a black man I’ll eat my words. But Occam’s Razor: Thousands and thousands of black diners eat at this place and no one noticed til now? Doubtful.

  • Barry Witt

    Wow. A photo of a legal hanging of a single black man almost a year after the crime was committed and following a trial, conviction and sentencing becomes the illegal lynching of two black men. Revisionist history at it’s best.

  • Car Car Jinx

    after looking up photos of the hanging, i have concluded that, unless there is a much higher quality print somewhere, it is utterly impossible to determine the race of the person being hanged.
    this means that the couple had to RESEARCH the story behind the hanging BEFORE they could become “offended” by it.
    at the time the photo was taken, hanging was a common method of execution for murderers of all races.
    what would have happened if the man being executed were white? would the couple still have been offended? would this even be in the news?

    in my opinion, joe’s crab shack should find a photograph of a WHITE man being hanged for murder in the same historical period, and substitute it as a table decoration, with EXACTLY THE SAME comic caption.
    then sit back and wait for the next activist to come in and be disappointed.

    • People should be offended; it’s a stupid joke and it’s inappropriate to use an execution for a stupid joke.

      The descendants of the victim of the murder should be offended. It’s not trivia.

      • drhaasmn

        Yes. Absolutely.

  • taranijoy

    so much effort to justify a black person’s death…sure that doesn’t say 2015? for all we know, they hung themselves!

    • I’m not aware of anyone making an effort to justify anything other than trying to be more accurate in the account of what the picture is.

      • taranijoy

        the picture is of a black person’s death. even in your reply, you’re putting forth effort in discounting exactly what it is that you’re doing. for someone so stuck on accuracy…not so accurate.

        • [edited to add]
          // you’re putting forth effort in discounting exactly what it is that you’re doing

          No, in no way or form am I doing that. I’ve explained exactly what it is I’m doing. I think you’re interpreting with what you think I’m doing, and I can’t really do anything but ask you to rely on the literal translation of what I’ve written.

          I understand you and I don’t know each other so I have no right to ask for the benefit of the doubt, but I’ll try to further explain what I’m saying.

          The death of a black man in an execution is as horrific as the death of a white man in an execution. The whole “circus” surrounding executions is reprehensible and that, too, is represented in this photograph. That much is also not arguable.

          There can be no doubt, of course, that the lynching of black people for being nothing more than black is even more horrific.

          But you simply cannot with any degree accuracy and without any context say that an execution is a lynching based solely on race. Could it be about race? Of course it could. Is it about race in this case? We don’t have that information. We have information about the details of the case and the circumstantial nature of the conviction, but that’s about it.

          So what we know is that this is a hanging. It is an execution. It is not — at least in the absence of any information — a lynching, which requires a specific set of conditions.

          The word has a specific meaning. And a powerful one.

          Now, it’s possible, I think, one could say that the hanging of a black man is symbolic of a lynching. But a better symbol would be an actual lynching.

          We cannot declare as fact that which we think we know. We can only declare as fact that which we actually know.

          • taranijoy

            without any context?? can a white person be lynched? the obvious answer to that rhetorical question is why you can not assume racial equality then, at that trial, or now, even in this conversation.

            for the record, I’m not arguing semantics about the racial implications of an execution or a lynching. i maintain, however, that this entire post and comment thread existing under the aim of “accuracy” is really simply veiled racism. that effort.

            and you’re right, we don’t know each other. and I did give you the benefit of the doubt because after having read through the comments, you struck me as a white man with a bit of sense and humility that knows when to stop being defensive and listen so I decided against my better judgment to engage. I should go back and listen to myself…

          • Thank you, taranijoy. I appreciate that. You’re calling me out on what you think is my racism because I’m insisting on accurate depiction of what this photograph/picture shows. I get that.

            There’s not much I can say to that if you’ve determined that explaining the actual event that picture depicts is racism. The picture is what the picture is and the circumstances and context of it matter in regards to its use.

            This doesn’t mean that there weren’t lynchings in our history; of course we know they were.

            I’m not sure we can retry this case in the comments section of a blog in order to try to separate what role raced played in the trial vs. the accumulated evidence.

            In the end there’s a definition of the word lynching and there’s the circumstantial evidence (cited below) into which the photograph has to fit.

            There’s obviously a nation’s history that doesn’t fit into the definition of a legal trial. The question is whether that’s the case in this murder?

            My explanation of the specific historical circumstances surrounding this picture should not in any way be confused with defensiveness. Neither should the fact I’m explaining it mean I’m not listening to you any more than I believe .you’re not listening to me. I think you’re listening fine.

            It means I’m not agreeing with you. And you’re not agreeing with me.

          • colbey

            >>”can a white person be lynched?”<<

            yes. it's happened. any person can be lynched, and all lynchings are horrors. the particular horror for America, is that the great majority of lynchings have been of black people, and that for most of those, the sole reason for the lynching has been the color of their skin.

          • Rick Fitz

            Great cogent response. His race is immaterial- it was tacky for a restaurant to use the illustration, and the man was most likely guilty when his (BLACK) family turned him into the police!

  • Please don’t bother posting your racist comments. I’ll delete as fast as you can post them and you’d only be wasting both of our time.

  • 3A5UC

    Another white liberal bending over backwards to “just ask questions” about a lynching. “Minnesota nice” at it’s finest.

    • My name is Bob. And I’m here to have a conversation if that’s what you want.

      I’m not really into just shouting at each other and this blog never has been either so I hope you’ll take the opportunity to have a discussion. It’s not very internety, I understand, but that’s what we do.

      Can you tell me from your perspective why this a lynching?

      • 3A5UC

        Can you tell me why a middle aged white boy is so worked up about the distinction between a lynching done by mob and a lynching done by the judiciary? Do you really think that a black man could get a fair trial in Texas in the year eighteen ninety-five? Does the pope shit in the woods?

        • First, thank you for calling me middle aged.

          The answer to your question is “I don’t know.”

          I’m not “worked up” , I’m merely pointing out that the definition of “lynching” cannot be applied to the case surrounding this execution.

          • lindblomeagles

            I’m late to the conversation (apologies), and I think I understand what you’re saying. 1) Joe’s Crab Shack (or who ever made the table) stumbled onto the photo of an actual court imposed sentence that occurred in Texas in 1895. 2) Apparently the “finder” sympathized with “The South,” either as a joke or some other statement, rewrote the FACTS of this picture, and put it in the table. 3) The artist and Joe’s did defame Black people with this picture, which you too decry because the artist/Joe’s took somebody else’s photo (without permission) and used their likeness to demean Black people. 4) Since the artist/Joe’s committed TWO WRONGS (taking someone’s likeness and falsifying that likeness to inflict crude, vulgar, racist attacks against Blacks) instead of the one our community assumes Joe did (which was just display a picture of a lynching), this situation is ACTUALLY WORSE than the one we assume Joe did (display a lynching), which, in fact, Joe never did. I’m with you Bob. I get this now. I’ll post to the broader community. Thanks Bob!

  • Elli Elliott

    Enough with the white-splaining. This blog entry is a disgrace to Minnesota Public Radio.

    • Because why, Elli?

      Let’s try to have a conversation rather than shouting at each other. I think you deserve that much respect. So do I.

      Why do you think this is a lynching? What is your definition of lynching?

      For the purposes of the conversation, I’m using the Oxford Dictionary:

      “(Of a mob) kill (someone), especially by hanging, for an alleged offense with or without a legal trial.”

      • Elli Elliott

        I can see from your other replies that you probably do not understand what “whitesplaining” means. I use a single word as a description. It’s not “shouting.” “Whitesplaining” is, among other things, responding to a serious issue such as the offensive image in question by deflecting to “explain” some factual matter to avoid the actual issue. The explanation also functions to allow the explainer to assert a form of superior knowledge and expresses a tone of condescension. You have prefaced your “explanation” with acknowledgement of the reality of the issue but your decision to shift to another issue presents itself as an example of “whitesplaining.” The issue is the image, as many others have pointed out. How much does it really matter whether it is a hanging without a trial or a public execution of a black man for the entertainment of the huge crowd assembled? This hideous and racist image has been used in an eating establishment. A sincere apology is needed. That should be the focus. Start with some real empathy. Then it will be clear whether your factual discussion is needed.

        • That the image is horrible is not a fact in dispute. That an apology was necessary is not a fact in dispute. I made the point. The story provided made the point. Numerous times.

          I didn’t “shift” anything. I acknowledged as much. What I provided was additional information to correct an inaccuracy and provide context of the scene portrayed.

          It is not “either a hanging without a trial or a public execution of a black man for the entertainment of the huge crowd.” It is an execution for the murder of man after a trial and an appeal.

          A horrible image? Fact. A needed apology? Fact. Offensive? Fact. An execution of man for the murder of another? Fact.

          Facts don’t make other facts moot. Facts don’t deflect the validity of any fact-based and principled assertions. Accumulated facts simply provide additional knowledge on all elements of a story.

          People are free to do anything they wish with the facts surrounding this picture, including ignoring them if that’s what the wish to do.

          The fact it’s not a lynching doesn’t change that it’s a horrible image. It doesn’t change the reality that the apology offered by Joe’s was warranted. It doesn’t change that people are offended by it. And no one, certainly not me has suggested that it does.

          That, too, is a fact.

  • drhaasmn

    There is a huge difference between a lynching and an execution – although one could argue that the end result is the same, the method of getting there is completely different.

    The photo should not have been used – period – doesn’t matter if it is a black or a white person being executed. That in and of itself is inexcusable. What would the protests be if they had used a photo of John Wayne Gacy or Timothy McVeigh ?

    And then you add the comment on top of it? Really? Whoever made the table needs a brain.

  • Mike M

    While it may be a bad choice for decoration, given the poor quality of the image, how could you possibly even tell the guy being hanged is black? This was probably just someone making a bad joke out a photo of a hanging without thinking there was anything racial about it. Seems like another over-reaction by the NAACP.

  • jcluvstrnity

    What’s the freakin’ difference?! The verbiage is NOT impt. A man died by rope…something that we are all too familiar with! This article is also offensive and stupid! It definitely did NOT need to be written. Just awful! I know that you have been over the comments and read them because you answered them. You see what you have started?Or was that your intention for fame? You gave voice to the sick people who would come here belittle and make fun of the circumstance just to be nasty. The article has the same impact as the table…. smh

    • The difference is important for all the reasons previously articulated.

    • alpha_centauri

      The person in the photo taken 100+ years ago was being executed as they had been found guilty of murder in a fair trial, and it was not a lynching.

      • Rob

        We don’t know how fair the trial was.

  • lindblomeagles

    I think I understand Bob’s perspective here. Please allow me to elaborate.
    1) Joe’s Crab Shack (or who ever made the table) stumbled onto the photo of an actual court imposed sentence that occurred in Texas in 1895.
    2) Apparently the “finder” sympathized with “The South,” either as a joke or some other statement, rewrote the FACTS of this picture, and put it in the table.
    3) The artist and Joe’s did defame Black people with this picture, which Bob decries because the artist/Joe’s took somebody else’s photo (without permission) and used their likeness to demean Black people.
    4) Since the artist/Joe’s committed TWO WRONGS (taking someone’s likeness and falsifying that likeness to inflict crude, vulgar, racist attacks against Blacks) instead of the one our community assumes Joe did (which was just display a picture of a lynching), this situation is ACTUALLY WORSE than the one we assume Joe did (display a lynching), which, in fact, Joe never did.
    5) It’s one thing to show an actual lynching of African American men. That did happen. It’s totally something worse when a person a) rewrites the information about or intentionally misleads the public about a photo, and then b) intends to demean racially African American men with the falsified photo to an unsuspecting public.

    • I’m not offering a perspective. I’m pointing out a singular fact. This is not a picture of a lynching.

      • lindblomeagles

        That’s true. It isn’t a picture of a lynching. Whoever the creator is he figuratively took the Declaration of Independence and named it the Magna Carter. The Magna Carter is the Magna Carter. The Declaration of Independence is the Declaration of Independence. The picture of the three African Americans lynched in Duluth in 1920, was a picture of a lynching. The picture at Joe’s is the picture of an 1895 prison sentence. Too bad you weren’t offering perspective, because I certainly am now more offended knowing this isn’t a lynching.

    • Fred, Just Fred


      2) Apparently the “finder” sympathized with “The South,” either as a joke or some other statement, rewrote the FACTS of this picture, and put it in the table.

      If I’m not mistaken, one of the last public lynchings in the US took place in Minnesota. If your extrapolations have any merit at all, the finder was just as likely to be a sympathizer of “The North”

  • Warchild_70

    OK the picture was reprehensible it won’t help with your appetite. But here comes a group of people of color and immediately make it a black thing, lynching. It wasn’t even the correct state as mentioned. What it was was a public execution of a murderer whom happens to be black end of story. Now we wait for the lawyers to appear to sui the restaurant and it’s Corporation for all kinds of “grief” and wring a goodly amount of cash and there will be a judge that will agree to their attorneys. I hope those offended have someone to tell them it was, in poor taste, to use the photo of the PUBLIC HANGING in Texas, as a decorum.

    • alpha_centauri

      Well said. The people who are getting their panties in a bunch over an old photo of an execution of a murderer are just looking for a payout.

  • Tamjae

    Richard Burleson could not have been a freed slave. He was 21 when he was hung in 1895. Richard is shown on an 1880 census record in Limestone at age 6 being born approx 1874 which would correlate with the correct age of 21 in 1895. The relative has provided a falsehood. He needs to do better factual research.

    • alpha_centauri

      He was not a slave at all.

      • Tamjae

        Correct! The relative need not add anything like this just to add dramatics to the story.

  • Rick Fitz

    Poor taste- absolutely. Racist- no.

  • Tommy

    I can’t believe I just wasted so much time reading these comments! 120 years ago and so much back and forth between whether it was a lynching or a hanging. Who cares? The picture was in very poor taste because someone died in the picture. The people that pulled the race card are the ones who haven’t moved on from the past…120 year old past that had absolutely nothing to do with them.

    For Chauntyll Allen to say, “They are trying to make a joke out of our black bodies being lynched…”, that in itself proves that she is living in a past that she wasn’t part of. “OUR black bodies”….really? That statement makes it seem like she had dinner with Richard Burleson the night before.

    If people are really wanting to move on from the past, then the NAACP should tell Ms. Allen to not try to alter a past to benefit her activism, the past is already written in the records, and let’s drive on with race issues that are applicable to today. The more likely course of action will be: let’s stand up to the “perpetrators” that committed this hanging (or lynching – whatever) that happened 120 years ago who are all dead now themselves and protest outside of the restaurant until we close its doors for good.

    Joe’s Crab Shack owes nothing to a charity and should only consider to apologize for a picture (of someone dying) that was in bad taste for a restaurant. Anything beyond that is someone trying to get something for nothing (or should I say something from Richard Burleson’s experience).

    Honestly, I wouldn’t be lucky enough to sit at a table with a picture of someone being executed, regardless of color – Nuremberg would make excellent discussion. Instead I have to settle for talking about overpriced crab legs and whether or not the crab was frozen or freshly executed in a pot of boiling water. I’m pretty sure it’s frozen.

  • Claudia

    I am very disappointed in the article.

    This article diminishes the point of the outrage of image found in the restaurant. If Mr. Collins felt compelled to make this point he should have taken the time to also report all of the facts surrounding the picture, especially the specifics about whether the circumstances involved in determining the guilt of these two individuals were legitimate – was there actual evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt that the individuals were guilty, what was the racial makeup of the trial etc. As we are all aware there is substantial historical evidence to demonstrating the rights of Black people were not protected. If their rights were not protected, whether this image was of a lynching or handing was moot.

    • It’s hard to diminish the outrage of the image given that I mentioned it three times.

      As I indicated elsewhere, a nearby county had 1/3 of its grand jury regularly made up of African Americans so the assumption that there weren’t any on a jury is false. The percentage of blacks convicted of the crimes with which they were charged waas higher than the number of whites, but the number wasn’t 100%. It was more like 60% as I recall, so the assertion that it was impossible to get a fair trial false.

      Unquestionably, there were lynchings. Nobody is arguing that.

      But the point you’re actually making is a statement of what this was, despite not having significant evidence, should be taken on faith and accepted unquestionably.

      But the question then becomes: Why do we need to ignore facts in evidence to accept the inappropriate nature of the image and accept something on faith instead?

      People have found the joke inappropriate. Seems to me the image spoke for itself and the historical facts surrounding the image have spoken for themselves and neither had diminished the reality of the inappropriateness.

    • alpha_centauri

      They’re only “outraged” because they now realize that they’re not going to get paid if they sue Joe’s crab shack, and it’s the fault of the person who decorated the restaurant, and not the restaurant/restaurant company itself, plus the picture is NOT of a lynching despite how these two fools want to now pretend it is. I have seen some news stories about this where people now are claiming that instead of one person being executed it’s now multiple black men being lynched when in reality you cannot tell the race of the person being executed, and executions like this one after a guilty verdict in a trial for murder is an apt punishment.

  • Juny Jr

    They still hanging Black Men… Except its in the form of Cop Snuff films that are all over you tube… I thought he had a Gun is the new Cry for Justice !

  • tracyjbogert

    I will never eat at a Joe’s Crab Shack anywhere regardless of
    hanging or a lynching