The Minister for Equality, Marlène Schiappa, spoke out after gilets jaunes supporters donated at least €117,000 for Christopher Dettinger, who is now in police custody. “Supporting that, it’s complicity in this act and giving encouragement,” she said. She also said the success of the online fund, known as a cagnotte, was “shocking”.
It comes as French internet business Leetchi said the fundraising for the ‘gilet jaune boxer’ should now stop in view of the amount now raised. It promised to only hand over funds to his lawyers in payment for his legal expenses, with any remaining to be reimbursed to the donors.
The firm defended itself on Twitter against criticism from the government and police unions, saying the fund was legal and so it was not up to Leetchi to pass judgement on it and it was “in no sense a reward”.
Before the fund was closed to further donations more than 7,700 donors took part. Leetchi has since hidden the amount of the donations “after the fuss and media pressure, and to preserve Christophe’s family”.
Videos have widely circulated on the internet showing Mr Dettinger on a bridge over the Seine delivering powerful punches towards gendarmes protecting themselves with riot shields. In another video a man who looks like him is seen to attack a gendarme on the ground. Both gendarmes were given time off for ‘inacapacity’ due to the attacks.
One of them told journalists the ‘boxer’ threw him to the ground and then delivered blows to him, along with several other protesters. “It was just hitting for the sake of hitting,” he said. “The head, the face, the back… his friends were stopping me from getting up. It was hitting to really harm, even kill if they could.”
One of the gendarmes on the bridge said the man “clearly knew what he was doing… he kept going into a boxing stance and he was aiming his blows at my face… it was gratuitous violence.”
A police source told France 2 television they believe the ‘boxer’’s gloves were lined with lead.
After being identified from video images, Dettinger, 37, a former professional boxer and 2007-8 light heavyweight French champion, gave himself up to the police.
He also released a video in which he stated he had been protesting for his children’s future and that he had been gassed by the police during the protest. “The anger rose in me and yes, I reacted badly,” he said.
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