- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 16, 2018

H&M stores in South Africa have been temporarily closed after angry mobs tore through several branches across the country, destroying merchandise and toppling displays over a children’s hoodie that many have deemed racist.

The protests were organized by the Economic Freedom Fighters, a militant socialist group founded by expelled former African National Congress Youth League President Julius Malema, The Independent reported.

Floyd Shivambu, spokesman for the group, said the Swedish retailer was “now facing the consequences for its racism” after a young black boy was pictured wearing a “coolest monkey in the jungle” hoodie on the retailer’s website.

At least four malls were hit with violence over the weekend by people protesting the hoodie, Fox News reported. Police reportedly used rubber bullets to clear protesters in Boksburg on Saturday. In Johannesburg, protesters were filmed pulling down mannequins and pushing over clothes rails.

H&M South Africa said it was temporarily shutting down stores across the country to keep staff and shoppers safe.

“What matters most to us is the safety of our employees and customers,” the company said in a statement. “We continue to monitor the situation closely and will open the stores as soon as the situation is safe again.”

H&M apologized last week for the “coolest monkey” hoodie and issued a mass withdrawal of stock after receiving widespread backlash.

Meanwhile, the mother of the 5-year-old featured in the ad, Terry Mango, defended H&M and told its critics to “get over it,” Fox News reported.

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