Activists Bring Black Lives Matter Movement to Forever 21

Activists Bring Black Lives Matter Movement to Forever 21

The Never 21 Project launched a surprise demonstration to raise awareness around police-involved and vigilante killings of young Black people.

Published April 28, 2015

A group of anonymous activists recently held a Black Lives Matter demonstration in an unexpected location: a Forever 21 window display.

Dressed as store employees, the Never 21 Project activists protested the police-involved and vigilante killings of young Black people by putting Black Lives Matter T-shirts on the Union Square store's mannequins and clothing racks, the Huffington Post reports.  

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"It was kind of the opposite of shoplifting," an anonymous protester told New York culture and news blog Gothamist. "We called it shop-gifting, because we were putting shirts into the store rather than taking them out."

A banner reading the Never 21 Project Web address and "BLACK LIVES MATTER" in the store's signature black, yellow and white color scheme was also hung in the second-floor window display.

According to one protester, the group had reportedly been planning the surprise demonstration "for a long time," practicing beforehand on mannequins. She noted that the set-up ran smoothly mostly due to the store being crowded. Store management did not seem to notice the altered window displays or T-shirts until about 20 minutes into the demonstration.

"These youth were never given the chance to see age 21, or any age there after, so we respond by reminding the public of the battle that we are still actively fighting," reads a statement on the group's homepage. Photographs of Aiyana Jones, 7, Michael Brown, 18, Tamir Rice, 12, and Trayvon Martin are featured on the Never 21 website, along with information on their high-profile deaths.

They also insisted that their action was not aimed at attacking on Forever 21, but instead raising awareness: "We care about the lives of Black men. We care about the lives of Black women. We care about the lives of Black CHILDREN."

In a statement released on Monday, Forever 21 claimed it is "not associated with the Never 21 Project and had no prior knowledge of their public demonstration."

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(Photo: Courtesy of Never 21)

Written by Patrice Peck

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