JOHANNESBURG -- Members of a South African opposition party stormed into some H&M stores across the country on Saturday to protest a promotional image of a black child wearing a sweatshirt with the words "." Local media reports said the Economic Freedom Fighters urged shopping malls to evict the Swedish clothing retailer, which has apologized after an outcry in other countries. People have called the image racist and inappropriate.
Television footage showed clothing in one of the South African stores scattered everywhere.
H&M in South Africa said it had removed the sweatshirt from sale. "We have got this wrong and we are deeply sorry," a message on its South African website said.
EFF leader Julius Malema said he doesn't regret taking the action Saturday, the South African Broadcasting Corporation reported.
NBA 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. The hoodie, which was sold in the clothing chain's U.K. stores, sparked a social media backlash, with consumers vowing to stop shopping at its stores and calling for an investigation.
H&M isn't the first clothing company to come under fire for clothing that can be construed as offensive. Retailers have repeatedly created firestorms through graphic shirts that aimed to be funny or edgy, but instead waded into touchy gender or racial issues.
The Children's Place, for one, found itself mired in controversy when a girl's T-shirt sparked complaints it reinforced stereotypes that girls aren't interested in math. The shirt showed a checklist of "my best subjects," with shopping checked off while math remained unchecked.