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H&M Closes South-African Stores Amid Massive Protests and Chaos

Photo Credit: Foto24/Getty Images

In the words of Kevin Hart, H&M gon’ learn today!

The Swedish clothing company has temporarily closed its doors in South Africa after patrons protested the brand and trashed stores throughout the country.  

Outrage erupted last week after H&M posted a racially offensive product photo online, selling a kid’s green crewneck sweatshirt with the words “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” written across the front. The problem? It was a Black child wearing the clothing. 

H&M has since pulled the product photo from its online store and from physical retailers, but the backlash is just beginning. After celebrities spoke out against the company – The Weeknd, who cut all ties with the brand, and Diddy, who offered the child featured in the ad a $1 million modeling contract – groups of people from South Africa’s second-largest opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, rallied in front of H&M stores across South Africa to protest the company.

But simple protests were just the beginning. 

While some protesters demonstrated their frustrations with the Swedish-bred store by marching through various locations, others decided to ransack the enterprise by knocking over mannequins and brand merchandise.

As a result, H&M announced via email that it would be “temporarily” closing all stores in the South Africa area.

“Out of concern for the safety of our employees and customers we have temporarily closed all stores in the area. None of our staff or customers have been injured. We continue to monitor the situation closely and will open the stores as soon as the situation is safe again. We strongly believe that racism and bias in any shape or form, deliberate or accidental, are simply unacceptable. We stress that our wonderful store staff had nothing to do with our poorly judged product and image.”

There are no details on when or if the stores will reopen.

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