By Steve Neavling
Swedish clothing retailer H&M was forced to close several stores in South Africa this weekend after protesters stormed the shops in response to a black child modeling a hooded sweatshirt that bore the slogan, “Coolest monkey in the jungle.”
Demonstrators toppled racks of clothing and security sensors at some of H&M’s 17 locations in South Africa.
The ad provoked escalating outrage on social media earlier this week, prompting H&M to apologize, delete the ad and stop selling the sweatshirt.
“We are deeply sorry that the picture was taken, and we also regret the actual print,” the company said in a statement. “Therefore, we have not only removed the image from our channels, but also the garment from our product offering globally.”
Saturday’s demonstration was staged by South Africa’s second-largest opposition party, Economic Freedom Fights.
The party’s leader, Julius Malema, offered no apology.
“Every shop that undermines black people must be attended to,” Malema said in a speech. “It must be shut down. It must be closed.”
Look at the lawlessness!!! This is at H&M pic.twitter.com/UvpHEYS9dQ
— Yusuf Abramjee (@Abramjee) January 13, 2018
H&M said it is closely monitoring its stores in South Africa.
“None of our staff or customers have been injured,” H&M said in a statement. “We continue to monitor the situation closely and will open the stores as soon as the situation is safe again.”
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