Leftist activists in South Africa are trashing H&M retail stores throughout the country in protest of the fashion retailer’s so-called “racist” hoodie with the words “coolest monkey in the jungle,” worn by a black child on the company’s website.
The melee erupted in over four malls in the African nation today, shortly after the Swedish fashion company was forced to issue an apology for the “thoughtless” product.
The company is facing serious backlash after outrage over the hoodie spread across social media. The controversy prompted Canadian hip-hop artist The Weeknd, who previously partnered with H&M and modeled for the company in 2017, to end his relationship with the brand.
Footage at the H&M store at Menlyn Park Shopping Centre in Pretoria was captured and shared across social media. Red-shirted protesters are seen kicking over racks and pulling down clothes and mannequins as they’re cheered on by a cohort who recorded the video.
The wave of attacks were organized in advance of the stores’ openings on Saturday, and celebrated by Floyd Shivambu, a spokesman for the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters party, stating that the retailer is “facing the consequences for its racism.”
The EFF is the third-largest political party in South Africa, led by expelled former African National Congress Youth League leader Julius Malema, who was kicked out for inciting violence against the “boer,” or white people, with the goal of sparking a race war.
According to South African reporters for the Daily Mail, shoppers and bystanders were forced to evacuate as chanting mobs wearing red uniforms belonging to South Africa’s radical opposition party swept through the retail stores. In one instance, riot police were forced to fire rubber bullets at protesters to quell the violence.
H&M has yet to issue a statement over the chaos, but social media is engulfed with both support and condemnation for the violence, with many in South Africa echoing Shivambu’s praise for the “radical action.”