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French official due to lead 'yellow vests' debate quits in pay furore

10 January 2019
French official due to lead 'yellow vests' debate quits in pay furore

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.

Images showed the ex-boxing champion knocking policemen down in a hail of punches and kicking them on the ground in a pedestrian bridge over the Seine.

How did the boxer explain his actions?

Countless messages of support and even admiration, some hailing him as the protest movement's own "Rambo", have been posted on social media.

Assaulting a police officer can lead to up to three years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros (51,000 dollars), though sentences can be increased in certain circumstances.

More than €114,000 (£102,000) had been raised by the time the Leetchi website closed the page, reports say.

"Contributing to a fundraising kitty to support someone who attacked an officer is tantamount to being an accomplice to these grave acts of violence", said Marlene Schiappa, junior minister for equality. He abandoned the tax hike and announced last month a series of measures to boost purchasing power. Macron and his parliamentary majority don't face new elections until 2022. The rallies have been marked by violent clashes between protesters and the police.

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.

At least 10 people died and more than a thousand others were wounded in the protests.

There was a recent statement by two ministers from the Italian government who do not hide their support [for the yellow vest movement]...

Despite the eruption of trouble at each of eight Paris weekend protests so far, and at numerous other flashpoints around the country, polls suggest just over half the population believes the campaign should continue.

Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, head of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), wrote on his party's blog Monday: "Yellow vests, do not weaken!"

Gérard Filoche, former MP of the Socialist Party's leftist fringe, said: "I've been running debates, articles, meetings, videos voluntarily for decades".

In future, Mr Philippe said, the onus would be on "the troublemakers, and not taxpayers, to pay for the damage caused" to businesses and property during the protests which began peacefully in mid-November over taxes but quickly became more radical.

"Those who question our institutions will not have the last word", said Mr Philippe in a televised announcement of his proposals for combatting violence.