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H&M closes stores in South Africa after protests over 'monkey' hoodie

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- H&M closed its stores in South Africa on Saturday after reports of protesters trashing the outlets over a racially insensitive advertisement.

Last week, the brand's image of a black child modeling a green hoodie with "Coolest Monkey in the Jungle" written on it drew swift backlash online and from celebrities, leading to an apology from H&M.

On Saturday, the South African Police Service said on Twitter there were "several incidents of protests at H&M stores" and protesters at the East Rand Mall "managed to enter the shop & stole several items."

Police said they had to intervene and used rubber bullets to disperse the group.

The protests were reportedly organized by the Economic Freedom Fighters' party (EFF).

The retailer said in a statement it was temporarily shutting the stores "out of concern for the safety of our employees and customers."

"We strongly believe that racism and bias in any shape or form, deliberate or accidental, are simply unacceptable.

"We stress that our store staff had nothing to do with our poor judgement of producing the children's hoodie and the image."

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