Crowdfunding site cuts off cash for 'Yellow Vest boxer'
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The crowdfunding website Leetchi has shut down a campaign for a former professional boxer filmed punching police officers during Yellow Vest protests in Paris, after French officials slammed the fundraising drive as encouraging violence against police.
On Tuesday, 8,052 people had pledged more than 117,000 euros on the Leetchi website for Christophe Dettinger, known as "The Gypsy From Massy" during his days in the ring, before the collection was declared “finished”.
Leetchi initially defended its hosting of the fundraising, saying that as a platform it was required to remain neutral. But on Tuesday morning, it announced that it had closed the fund.
"Christophe and his family are sincerely touched by your generosity ... and as he says, 'the fight continues!'" it reads on the site.
Leetchi did not reveal how much was raised in total, but said 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.
Dettinger, 37, turned himself in to police Monday after videos emerged of him landing punch after punch on shield-carrying officers during the latest Yellow Vest demonstrations in Paris on Saturday. He was still in custody on Tuesday.
In a video posted on YouTube on Sunday, he described himself as an ordinary citizen acting out of anger against what he called the repressive tactics of the police.
"I am a Yellow Vest. I have the anger of the people in me," said the 2007 and 2008 champion in the French junior heavyweight division.
But government officials denounced the fundraising drive, with many calling for it to be shut down or for the pledged funds to be seized.
"Is it normal to want to support this man seen hitting an officer on the ground, boxing an officer?" transport minister Elisabeth Roland asked Franceinfo radio.
"Apparently, hitting a police officer pays off," tweeted digital minister Mounir Mahjoubi. "Everyone must assume their responsibilities: this kitty is shameful," he added.
The SCSI-CFDT police union said the funds should be seized to compensate the two officers injured in Saturday's attack. They are off duty while they recover from their injuries.
Many Yellow Vest demonstrators point to a video showing a police captain beating protesters in the southern city of Toulon at the weekend – and their heavy use of teargas and rubber bullets – to support their claim that the violence runs both ways.