H&M stores trashed in protest over ‘racist’ ad
Protesters have stormed H&M stores in South Africa, pushing over mannequins and tearing down racks of clothing after one of the retail giant's ads was branded "racist".
- H&M removes hoodie after criticism over racist online advertisement
- Black child model wore garment with slogan "coolest monkey in the jungle"
- Protesters have caused damage to some stores
H&M became embroiled in a racism controversy after an advertisement showing a black child model wearing a hoodie that said "coolest monkey in the jungle" was posted to the clothing chain's website.
The image copped widespread criticism, with US singer The Weekend among those to voice his distaste, saying he was "shocked and embarrassed".
"I'm deeply offended and will not be working with [H&M] anymore," he tweeted.
Video footage posted to social media on Saturday (local time) showed members of the Economic Freedom Fighters — a South African political party — outside the Clearwater Mall in Johannesburg blocking access to the store.
Protesters were wearing red and dancing and singing outside department stores. Some held signs that said "H&M say 'hello' to coolest monkeys" and "away with H&M racist tendencies".
Police were called to H&M stores, with media reporting rubber bullets were used.
Social media users also reported protests at other stores in Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Some were critical of the protest, saying the EFF had timed it to coincide with birthday celebrations for the ruling African National Congress party.
"EFF chose today to pull these antics to take away some attention from #ANC106 celebrations," Phil Mphela wrote. "Don't be naive and think this is only about H&M."
In a statement posted to Instagram last week, H&M said it had removed the advertisement and garment.
"Our position is simple — we have got this wrong and we are deeply sorry," the statement said.
"We have a responsibility to be aware of and attuned to all racial and cultural sensitivities — and we have not lived up to this responsibility this time."
H&M said despite the incident being "accidental in nature", it still took it seriously and understood the upset and discomfort it had caused.
"We have taken down the image and we have removed the garment," the statement said.
"We will now be doing everything we possibly can to prevent this from happening again in future.
"We are deeply sorry that the picture was taken, and we also regret the actual print.
"Therefore, we've not only removed the image from our channels, but also the garment from our product offering."
H&M said procedures had not been followed properly and the company would thoroughly investigate why the incident happened.
However, a woman claiming to be the young boy's mother slammed ad critics on social media.
"Am the mum and this is one of hundreds of outfits my son has modelled … stop crying wolf all the time, unnecessary issue here … Get over it," Terry Mango wrote in a since-deleted Facebook post.