Protests in Johannesburg over 'racist' H&M ad

Protests in Johannesburg over 'racist' H&M ad

World-renowned clothing brand H&M recently came under fire after an item in their United Kingdom online lookbook featuring a young Black male model wearing a hoodie labeled "coolest monkey in the jungle" went viral.

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.

The image copped widespread criticism, with U.S. singer The Weekend among those to voice his distaste, saying he was "shocked and embarrassed".

Gauteng police have confirmed that they fired rubber bullets at the East Rand Mall in Boksburg to disperse Economic Freedom Fighters members who staged protests and vandalised several H&M stores around the province against a monkey sweater advert.

Protesters wore red and danced outside department stores, some held signs which said: 'H&M say "hello" to coolest monkeys'.

The Sandton Chronicle reported Police Captain Granvile Meyer said: 'The EFF supporters have caused damage inside the [H&M] store.

Social media users also reported protests at other stores in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Jeanette Homan
Jeanette Homan

National Basketball Association star LeBron James, rapper Diddy and singer The Weeknd are among the celebrities who expressed shock in recent days over the H&M image, which has been removed.

"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".

"This incident is accidental in nature, but this doesn't mean we don't take it extremely serious or understand the upset and discomfort it has caused".

'We're deeply sorry that the picture was taken and we also regret the actual print.

"We have taken down the image and we have removed the garment", the statement said.

But Terry Mango, mother of the child model, five-year-old Liam, branded the backlash to the image "unnecessary" and urged critics, including global superstars, to "stop crying wolf" and "get over it".

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