Activists in South Africa have trashed H&M stores in protest at the clothing retailer’s advert for its ‘coolest monkey in the jungle’ hoodie that featured a black child model. Violence spilled over in at least four malls as the latest race row to engulf the Swedish brand escalated, forcing the police police to fire rubber bullets at protesters. Innocent shoppers and bystanders were forced to flee as chanting gangs wearing uniforms of the country’s radical opposition party swept through at H&M stores across the city, including Africa’s flagship store in the upmarket suburb of Sandton.
The wave of the mass store invasions, which had clearly been well organised in advance, began shortly after the stores opened for Saturday trading, with pictures and videos of the chaos lit up social media. In one video, claimed to have been taken at the Menlyn Park store, one of red shirted activists is seen trashing displays, kicking over and pulling down clothes rails as well as pushing over mannequins. He was then joined by another activist in a white t-shirt and the pair continued to trash the clothes.
Floyd Shivambu, spokesman for the Economic Freedom Fighters party, praised the action, saying the retailer was ‘now facing the consequences for its racism’. The brand has yet to respond to today’s threats to close, but South Africa’s twitter community appeared divided over the action, which police are attempting to contain.
The global retailer, which has 4,500 stores in 62 countries, opened its first store in Africa two years ago and immediately found itself at the centre of a public backlash when it failed to feature any black models in its advertising.
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