Italian Populists Back Yellow Vests While Macron's France Pledges Crackdown

The boxer punching a police officer

YELLOW VESTS A former pro boxer was filmed punching riot police in France

Earlier on Monday, Di Maio published an open letter to the protesters, dubbed "Yellow vests, do not give up!" offering them support from his Five Star Movement party, slamming acts of violence by French police officers, and qualifying the yellow vest movement as a peaceful one. Leetchi said the funds were intended only for legal fees.

Dettinger, known when he was boxing professionally as "the Gypsy of Massy", after a town in the southern suburbs of Paris, was praised by many protesters, who lauded his courage while criticising alleged police brutality during the protests.

He was still in custody on Tuesday.

Numerous Facebook pages entitled "Support for Christophe Dettinger" have also been set up, with one such page showing it had more than 3,000 Facebook "likes".

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Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin has sought to distinguish genuine protesters, who want lower taxes and more help for low-income families, from those "who are in the business of ultra-violence".

"Apparently, hitting a police officer pays off", Digital Minister Mounir Mahjoubi had already tweeted on Monday.

"It's outrageous, this kitty is shameful", Schiappa said.

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.

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"In no way do we make judgements or take any stance whatsoever on the value of a theme, cause or project", it added.

The SCSI-CFDT police union, for its part, said the funds should be seized to compensate the two officers targeted by Dettinger, who were removed from duty while recovering from their injuries. "I have the anger of the people in me ... it's always the little people who pay".

A clip of him punching the officer, on the Léopold-Sédar-Senghor bridge which links the Tuileries gardens to the Musée d'Orsay, has been viewed millions of times.

"I was tear-gassed, with my friend and my wife, and at a certain point the anger just rose up inside me", said the 2007 and 2008 champion of France's light heavyweight division.

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France has accused Italy of interfering in its affairs after the populist government in Rome, which rode to power previous year on a wave of anti-establishment sentiment, offered to help the "yellow vest" movement.

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