@hm u got us all wrong! And we ain’t going for it! Straight up! Enough about y’all and more of what I see when I look at this photo. I see a Young King!! The ruler of the world, an untouchable Force that can never be denied! We as African Americans will always have to break barriers, prove people wrong and work even harder to prove we belong but guess what, that’s what we love because the benefits at the end of the road are so beautiful!! #LiveLaughLove❤️ #LoveMyPeople⚖️⚖️
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) January 8, 2018
By contrast, the mother of the boy in the ad has told critics to just “get over it.”
But now, the uproar following the controversial ad deemed ‘racist’ and ‘offensive’ has made it all the way to South Africa, after its debut on the clothing store’s U.K. e-commerce site.
H&M has temporarily closed all of its store locations in South Africa after angry mobs stormed various branches across the country, tearing down displays and vandalizing merchandise.
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
“Protesters flocked to stores over the weekend and police were forced to use rubber bullets to clear the crowds outside a branch of the fast fashion chain in Boksburg on Saturday,” reported the Independent.
The protests were allegedly orchestrated by a radical militant group known as the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which was founded by Julius Malema, a former African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) President expelled in 2013.
Johannesburg, the nation’s biggest city and capital of Gauteng province, was hit particularly hard by protesters, who were filmed knocking over clothing racks, pulling down mannequins, and destroying displays.
Ambassadors against crime like #MakeSASafe have responded to the violent outbursts via social media, writing “Make your voice heard and say NO to violence and NO to racism. Lawlessness seen here cannot be allowed.”
The organization charges the people of South Africa to instead protest peacefully “within the framework of the law.”
RETWEET to make your voice heard and say NO to violence and NO to racism. Lawlessness seen here cannot be allowed. Stand up against racism peacefully and protest within the framework of the law. @MbalulaFikile @Abramjee @MmusiMaimane H&M pic.twitter.com/VvdjPjs0AU
— #MakeSASafe (@MakeSAsafe) January 13, 2018
In the meantime, H&M South Africa is taking all precautionary measures possible to ensure the safety of their customers and staff.
“What matters most to us is the safety of our employees and customers,” the company wrote in a public statement. “We continue to monitor the situation closely and will open the stores as soon as the situation is safe again.”