French ministers aghast at support for boxer who fought police

Rex Christensen
January 9, 2019

French police arrested a former professional boxer on Monday who was seen punching police officers during a "yellow vest" protest in Paris, in shocking scenes that have highlighted the violence of recent protests. "Everyone must assume their responsibilities: this fund is shameful", he added.

Leetchi initially defended its hosting of the fundraising, saying it was simply a "neutral" online platform. It then closed the page to further cash contributions, though it said all citizens had the right to raise funds to defend themselves.

Dettinger handed himself in to police after clashing with officers on a bridge in Paris during an anti-government protest on Saturday.

Leetchi did not reveal how much was raised in total, but said that it would ensure the funds "will be used only to pay for legal costs" and that any money left over would be returned to donors.

The police officer - a commander who was granted France's highest award, the Legion d'Honneur, on 1 January - was referred to investigators after appearing to punch one protester in the face several times. "I have the anger of the people in me ... it's always the little people who pay".

The head of the right-wing party also noted that she, just like most yellow vest supporters, condemns violence, but the French governments turned the situation into a "trap".

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The 37-year-old, a French light-heavyweight champion in 2007 and 2008 who retired from the sport in 2013, said in a video that he had "boiled over" after being teargassed with his wife on his eighth Saturday protest.

The French media has been targeted, while mock executions of Macron have also been a feature of some gatherings, notably in the town of Angouleme in southwest France.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in a TV interview late on Monday announced plans for legislation banning "troublemakers" from attending demonstrations.

About 50,000 people took to the streets again on Saturday in cities around France - more than the previous week's protest, but fewer than the 280,000 who turned out in November.

Politician Chantal Jouanno had been due to lead a national debate organised by the government to discuss living standards and government policies.

The Yellow Vest movement - named after the neon safety jackets that are mandatory in French vehicles- prompted Macron's government to announce financial relief measures in December, including a state-funded supplement to the minimum wage, but many protesters say the measures are not enough.

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