Guests tucking into grub at the famed former speakeasy on West 52nd Street Friday thought they were getting a dessert menu, but instead found themselves staring at a list of names titled "Young Black Lives Lost to Police Violence."
The Never21 collective, which orchestrated the action, aims to invoke the memory of black youths who will never reach adulthood.
"Countless underaged lives have been lost at the hands of self proclaimed 'vigilantes' and disgruntled police officers," the group wrote on their website. "These youths were never given the chance to see age 21, or any age there after, so we respond by reminding the public of the battle we are still actively fighting."
They told Hyperallergic that they chose the 21 Club, and retailer Forever 21, which was the target of a similar stunt by the group, not only for their names but because of the culture each represents.
"To us, both of these companies serve as representations of corporate white America — our target audience. We aim to make these spaces slightly confrontational," a representative for the group said.
A member of the collective said in the interview that 21 Club patrons were unfazed. Some even made jokes, the group said, referring to slain teen VonDerrit Myers.
"One person even went as far as saying he’d “like to order a VonDerrit Myers, which we obviously found disgusting. Other people were just extremely confused and looked visibly uncomfortable," the Never21 member said.
The group also hung the words "Black Lives Matter" on the restaurant's iconic lawn jockeys.