Updated Sunday, Jan. 14, 2017, 9:15 a.m. EST: H&M has decided to temporarily close all of its stores in South Africa amid protests that have seen several of its stores ransacked by protesters upset at a recent racist ad.
CNN reports that H&M has 17 locations in South Africa. “We continue to monitor the situation closely and will open the stores as soon as the situation is safe again,” read a press release.
Several H&M stores in South Africa caught wreck after protesters tore up several of the cheap-chic outlets on Saturday. They have reportedly said that they will continue to protest the retailer “indefinitely” until the stores close permanently.
According to Reuters, the Economic Freedom Fighters, a radical group that has vehemently opposed South African President Jacob Zuma, targeted six H&M stores in Johannesburg over a recent ad in which a black child wears a hooded sweatshirt saying “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle.”
The outlet reports that at one of the six stores targeted, officers fired rubber bullets to disperse the protesters, but police so far have made no arrests.
Earlier this week, H&M issued an apology for the widely criticized ad, but protesters said that this is only the beginning. One Twitter user quoted an EFF member saying that the group had given the store at one mall 24 hours to close its doors permanently, or protests would continue outside it indefinitely. The group obviously has different plans to upend the cycle of corporate racism, which is outrage, apology, business as usual, rinse and repeat.
Some, of course, spoke out against the actions, but Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, who is EFF’s national spokesperson and commissar responsible for communications, wrote on Twitter that there are “no cheeks left to turn.”
“In our vocab: anti-black racism is violence! U asking us to confront violence by giving the other cheek. But how many times hav[e] blacks given the other cheek on the racism question? Well there are no more cheeks left. We shall send petitions no longer, it’s time for Confrontation!”
And there it is.