Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz AB or H&M has temporarily shuttered 95 of its stores in various regions across the U.S. following violence and looting amid the unrest related to the death of George Floyd.
Street protests, some peaceful and some violent, erupted across the nation after Floyd was mercilessly killed by Minnesota police.
Floyd died on Memorial Day after he was pinned down by a white Minneapolis police officer by kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes. The 47-year old African American’s death has sparked outrage and protests in Minneapolis and across the U.S.
The company joins the growing list of retailer that have temporarily closed down the bulk of their stores in the U.S. that were hit by violence and looting following clashes that erupted after police action against unruly protestors. H&M stores in Philadelphia and Boston were reportedly targeted.
In a statement, H&M CEO Helena Helmersson said, “We re-commit to taking tangible steps to challenge racism and support our colleagues, customers and communities. Symbolic support is not enough – we will take action.”
H&M Group also intends donate $500,000 to US civil rights and law firm the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, civil rights advocacy group Color of Change, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). These organizations fight for justice, economic rights and empowerment of the Black Community.
H&M has around 600 stores in the U.S. and more than 5000 stores around the world. Despite being headquartered in Sweden, the retailer holds the most stores in the U.S., with the current count at about 595 stores.
Other retailers that closed down stores recently due to the arson and violence include Target, Walmart, Apple and CVS. This comes at a time when retailers were slowly reopening locations following the lockdown due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Target, which is based in Minneapolis, said it is closing six stores in various states until further notice citing the safety of employees and consumers.
Walmart closed some stores due to damages, but further details are not yet known. Technology giant Apple also has closed certain of its stores, as per reports.
Drug store chain CVS said it has closed many stores across 20 states citing the damages, and intends to close more due to the developing nature of the unrest.
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