Crowdfunding wars: As police page reaches €1 million, gilets jaunes set up new campaign

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Crowdfunding wars: As police page reaches €1 million, gilets jaunes set up new campaign
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A crowdfunding campaign started for police in the wake of gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protests has reached €1 million.

On Tuesday, the president of the southern Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA) region, Renaud Muselier, launched a kitty in support of policemen.

The crowdfunding page came in reaction to a campaign set up for a former French professional boxer who handed himself in to police on Monday after he was filmed repeatedly punching officers at a gilets jaunes protest in Paris.

Muselier's page said it aimed to raise money to benefit the "1,050 law enforcement officers wounded" demonstrations over the last nine weeks.

He said in a tweet that the campaign was “a beautiful example of solidarity”.

The crowdfunding campaign for the policemen was badly received by some social media users who accused it of being “illegal”. Some cited a rule that prohibits police from collecting money from civilians.

However, French lawyer Guillaume Champeau who specialises in digital rights said in a Twitter thread the campaign was legal because the money was not being directly collected by police but by a third-party, which is Muselier in this case.

But the penal code doesn't stop there, he said.

The lawyer also noted that for the crowdfunding campaign to be deemed "illegal," the donation would have to be used to "reward police for stopping an event or an action" or to get a "favour from authorities in return for the money." In this case, however, "the campaign was started to support police in their daily tasks, not to reward them for an action or to buy off a favour," he said.

"If the crowdfunding campaign had said 'let's collect money for policemen so they can keep fighting the gilets jaunes every Saturday,' we would've had a problem," he added.

Counter campaign from the Gilets jaunes

Since the page for police was launched, a prominant "gilets jaunes" (yellow vests) activist on Wednesday launched a further counter-campaign.

The new crowdfunding pot, started by Eric Drouet, was established to raise money for injured protesters.

"I invite all the people who say they support the 'gilets jaunes' cause to participate, more specifically the media who could prove their honesty by doing this," the description text on the crowdfunding page read.

A legal custodian would be contacted to oversee the campaign, it added.

At the time of writing, more than €70,000 had been collected but the sum remained far from the target amount — Drouet was looking to gather at least €999,999, according to the page.

What was the original fundraising campaign?

A crowdfunding organisation on Tuesday shut down a page for a former French professional boxer.

Christophe Dettinger, 37, is former light heavyweight boxer who twice won the national title in his category.

Footage from Saturday's gilets jaunes protest in the French capital (in the player below) shows him advancing towards and hitting a policeman on a pedestrian bridge.

A second video shows him hitting another policeman until he falls to the ground, where he is then kicked by several protesters.

Before being closed by crowdfunding website Leetchi, a total of €117000 was collected.

Christophe Dettinger was accused of punching a policeman during last week's protests