Protesters stormed H&M stores in South Africa on Saturday, tearing down racks and blocking entrances in protest of an image that went viral earlier this week of a Black child modeling a hoodie that read “coolest monkey in the jungle.”
According to ABC News and local outlets, the political party Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) was said to be at the forefront of the protests, asking local malls in Johannesburg and Pretoria to evict H&M stores and standing at entrances singing, dancing, and wearing red. They also held signs that read, “H&M say ‘hello’ to coolest monkeys” and “away with H&M racist tendencies.”
So this is H&M at Menlyn… a group of people are vandalizing and just throwing clothes around. #ANC106 pic.twitter.com/1S4edBabyS
— Mukololo ® (@DineoDeeMash2) January 13, 2018
[JUST IN] Protests at H&M Sandton City by EFF members. Video from eNCA’s @YashPaddy pic.twitter.com/qRy63ilRNj
— eNCA (@eNCA) January 13, 2018
The racist H&M image started circulating online last weekend and outrage was swift and massive, with many pointing out the long, cruel history of comparing Black people to monkeys. By Monday, H&M had removed the image and sweatshirt from its site in the U.S. and apologized.
On Saturday, a message on the homepage of H&M’s South African website explains that it too has removed the hoodie. “We have got this wrong and we are deeply sorry,” it reads.
According to the South African Broadcasting Corp., EFF leader Julius Malema said he doesn’t regret the action the group took today, and on Twitter, EFF Deputy President Floyd Shivambu told protesters “well done” for physically confronting racism.
Young women and girls are the silent victims of gang violence.
That @hm nonsense of a clothing store is now facing consequences for its racism. All rational people should agree that the store should not be allowed to continue operating in South Africa. Well done to Fighters who physically confronted racism. pic.twitter.com/cgdedYGoOj
— Floyd Shivambu (@FloydShivambu) January 13, 2018