On Friday, Black Lives Matter activists with the Never 21 collective infiltrated the ritzy 21 Club in Midtown Manhattan. Two members of the group posed as waiters and distributed “menus” to all of the patrons. The menus opened not to food and drink selections, but to lists of black children killed by police before the age of 21:

Simultaneously, another member distracted the host while others climbed to the balcony of the Club and hung signs from the arms of the iconic lawn jockeys on the facade, spelling out “Black Lives Matter.”

The action took less than 20 minutes, but left the entirely white, wealthy patronage of the 21 Club digesting their message much longer. “I’ll take the VonDerrit Meyers Jr.” said one patron in response, visibly uncomfortable and trying to make a joke.

“I’m not racist. I don’t need this,” said another, throwing his menu onto the table.

The signs remained up after the action inside the club was over and tourists could be seen snapping photos of the iconic club. The Never 21 collective also created a website that mirrors that of the 21 Club, where they have posted a statement, including:

The recent McKinney, Texas pool party incident serves as a prime example of what Never 21 has been and will continue fighting again. This was not intended to be an attack on the 21 Club itself. In contrary, it was an opportunity for the iconic cuisine to support a movement that needs all of the allies it can get.

Within the diverse landscape of the Black Lives Matter movement in NYC, Never 21 is focusing specifically on black children who have been killed by police, using creative direct action to keep their memories alive. This is the group’s second action. For their first, they took over the Forever 21 in Union Square, putting Black Lives Matter t-shirts on the mannequins in the store windows and hanging a banner from the second floor.

(Photo: Keegan Stephan/ANIMALNewYork)
(Video: Never 21)