Fund for French boxer who punched officers raises money, ire

The boxer punching a police officer

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

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. It then closed the page to further cash contributions, though it said all citizens had the right to raise funds to defend themselves.

Recent surveys suggest 75 per cent of the public oppose his government's policies and 60 per cent were unimpressed by his New Year message, in which he said he understood popular anger but remained committed to his reform programme.

He spoke after rioters torched motorbikes and set barricades ablaze on Paris's up-market Boulevard Saint-Germain on Saturday, underscoring how protests against high living costs and President Emmanuel Macron have turned violent on the fringes.

On Saturday, a group of protesters used a construction vehicle to smash open the doors of the building housing the ministry of government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux.

Philippe said 80,000 members of the security forces would be deployed for the next expected wave of protests, adding that "those who question our institutions will not have the last word".

Many "yellow vests" 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.

"And faced with ultra-violence, we need to be ultra-severe".

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The French government has since toughened its stance and said it would crack down harder on undeclared protests and violence on the fringes of demonstrations.

French police signalled a stricter approach last week when they arrested one of the leaders of the "yellow vests", truck driver Eric Drouet, for failing to notify authorities about a demonstration. "It needs to end", he told RTL radio on Monday.

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

The latest "yellow vest" marches began peacefully but degenerated on Saturday afternoon as protesters threw missiles at riot police blocking bridges over the Seine.

In mid-December, after weeks of worsening protest violence, M Macron scuppered unpopular fuel tax rises planned for January 1 in response to the citizens' revolt.

The protests - 18 months into Macron's tenure and his drive to reshape the economy - have already forced concessions from the 41-year-old president.

Italy has once again found itself at the centre of a political row after deputy prime ministers Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio showed their support for France's "yellow vest" protesters on Monday.

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