H&M stores trashed by anti-racism group over 'monkey' ad (VIDEOS, PHOTOS)

Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters staged a protest outside an H&M store at the Sandton mall in South Africa

Protesters have stormed and trashed an H&M store in South Africa after a controversial advert.

The image copped widespread criticism, with U.S. singer The Weekend among those to voice his distaste, saying he was "shocked and embarrassed".

The Swedish clothing store known as H&M may have apologized for an advertisement showing a black child wearing a sweatshirt that said "coolest monkey in the jungle", but that apology was clearly not accepted in South Africa, as protests by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) ended with serious property damage.

"I hope that this situation will serve as the wake up call that H&M and other companies need to get on track and become racially and culturally aware, as well as more diverse at every level".

Eyewitness reports also indicated that EFF supporters had protested at the H&M Waterfront store. Some held signs that said "H&M say "hello" to coolest monkeys" and "away with H&M racist tendencies".

Members of a left-wing, youth-oriented political movement stormed H&M stores around the country on January 13.

The advert featured child model Liam Mango. His mother has revealed she suffered online abuse after the controversy blew
The advert featured child model Liam Mango. His mother has revealed she suffered online abuse after the controversy blew

Video footage showed activists trashing displays, kicking over clothes rails and shoving mannequins.

National Basketball Association star LeBron James, rapper Diddy and singer The Weeknd are among the celebrities who expressed shock in recent days over the H&M image, which has been removed from online promotions but continues to be circulated on social media.

When a person on social media pulled H&M up on the issue, they responded with: "H&M's marketing has a major impact and it is essential for us to convey a positive image".

"We will now be doing everything we possibly can to prevent this from happening again in future".

"Therefore, we've not only removed the image from our channels, but also the garment from our product offering". It also promised to open an investigation and vowed that such an incident will never happen again.

However the image was still shared thousands of times on social media and drew comments from dozens of high-profile critics.

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