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Crowdfunding pits French police vs. yellow vest protesters

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A woman passes by a mural by street artist PBOY depicting Yellow Vest (gilets jaunes) protestors inspired by a painting by Eugene Delacroix,

PARIS (AP) — As France's yellow vest movement digs in for more protests, weeks of street clashes have produced a competition over which side can raise more money: protesters or police.

So far, the police seem to be winning. An online crowdfunding campaign for officers hurt in confrontations with protesters raised more than 1 million euros (almost $1.2 million) by Thursday, days after it was launched.

The fundraising effort came in response to a similar but more controversial appeal for donations to benefit a boxer captured on video Saturday while punching police officers at a Paris protest.

The drive on behalf of boxer Christophe Dettinger was promoted as generating money for his legal bills, but drew broad outrage as encouragement of violence. Online fundraising site Leetchi suspended the campaign Tuesday after it raised some 120,000 euros ($138,000).

The fund offended President Emmanuel Macron's government and the police departments that deployed officers to control crowds of sometimes violent demonstrators every weekend since the yellow vest movement kicked off Nov. 17. Conservative lawmaker Renaud Muselier launched the rival drive for injured officers.

The boxer acknowledged his behavior went too far and turned himself in to authorities. Dettinger was ordered to remain in custody until his trial next month on charges of violence against public officials.

Other groups also have tried online crowdfunding for French police or the anti-government movement. The protests started with motorists opposing fuel tax increases, which is why participants in the ongoing demonstrations wear the fluorescent vests French drivers are required to keep in their vehicles.

New protests are planned for this Saturday despite Macron promising billions of euros in tax relief and making other concessions.

In addition to violence and vandalism in the heart of Paris, the movement has attracted admirers in other countries. Italian Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio has said his populist movement is ready to help the French protesters, angering Macron's government.

The movement also inspired street artist Pascal Boyart, known as Pboy, who unveiled a huge mural in Paris on Thursday. The work evokes the well-known Eugene Delacroix' painting "Liberty Leading the People," with yellow vest protesters in place of French revolutionary masses in 1830.

Women watch a mural by street artist PBOY depicting Yellow Vest (gilets jaunes) protestors inspired by a painting by Eugene Delacroix,
A protestor wears a yellow jacket reading
French President Emmanuel Macron, left, shakes hands with national team players as he arrives to inaugurate a new handball stadium in Creteil, on the outskirts of Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. About 200 protesters, including unionists and yellow vests, gathered Wednesday in Creteil, a Paris suburb, as Macron was doing a visit in a facility dedicated to handball. Some scuffles broke out with police forces that used tear gas to keep the crowd at a distance from the French leader. (Ludovic Marin, Pool via AP)
In this photo taken on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2018, Italian Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio leaves a restaurant in Rome. An Italian government leader says his populist movement is ready to help anti-government protesters in France. Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio said his 5-Star Movement shares a quest for
In this photo taken on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2018, Italian Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio leaves a restaurant in Rome. An Italian government leader says his populist movement is ready to help anti-government protesters in France. Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio said his 5-Star Movement shares a quest for
In this photo taken on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2018, Italian Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio leaves a restaurant in Rome. An Italian government leader says his populist movement is ready to help anti-government protesters in France. Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio said his 5-Star Movement shares a quest for "direct democracy in Europe" with the French protesters. A 5-Star senator, Ettore Licheri, said on Wednesday that Di Maio is trying to line up "potential allies," including populists in France, Poland, Croatia and Sweden, ahead of the European Parliament elections in May. (Claudio Peri/ANSA via AP)
A protestor wears a yellow jacket reading
A protestor wears a yellow jacket reading "Macron we don't have any more money" during a demonstration of unionist and yellow vests, in Creteil, outside Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. About 200 protesters, including unionists and yellow vests, gathered Wednesday in Creteil, a Paris suburb, as Macron was doing a visit in a facility dedicated to handball. Some scuffles broke out with police forces that used tear gas to keep the crowd at a distance from the French leader. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
A woman passes by a mural by street artist PBOY depicting Yellow Vest (gilets jaunes) protestors inspired by a painting by Eugene Delacroix,
A woman passes by a mural by street artist PBOY depicting Yellow Vest (gilets jaunes) protestors inspired by a painting by Eugene Delacroix, "La Liberte guidant le Peuple" (Liberty Leading the People), in Paris, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. French President Emmanuel Macron is facing a mountain of challenges in the new year starting with yellow vest protesters who are back in the streets to show their anger against high taxes and his pro-business policies that they see as favoring the wealthy rather than the working class. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
French President Emmanuel Macron, left, shakes hands with national team players as he arrives to inaugurate a new handball stadium in Creteil, on the outskirts of Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. About 200 protesters, including unionists and yellow vests, gathered Wednesday in Creteil, a Paris suburb, as Macron was doing a visit in a facility dedicated to handball. Some scuffles broke out with police forces that used tear gas to keep the crowd at a distance from the French leader. (Ludovic Marin, Pool via AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, left, shakes hands with national team players as he arrives to inaugurate a new handball stadium in Creteil, on the outskirts of Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. About 200 protesters, including unionists and yellow vests, gathered Wednesday in Creteil, a Paris suburb, as Macron was doing a visit in a facility dedicated to handball. Some scuffles broke out with police forces that used tear gas to keep the crowd at a distance from the French leader. (Ludovic Marin, Pool via AP)
Women watch a mural by street artist PBOY depicting Yellow Vest (gilets jaunes) protestors inspired by a painting by Eugene Delacroix,
Women watch a mural by street artist PBOY depicting Yellow Vest (gilets jaunes) protestors inspired by a painting by Eugene Delacroix, "La Liberte guidant le Peuple" (Liberty Leading the People), in Paris, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. French President Emmanuel Macron is facing a mountain of challenges in the new year starting with yellow vest protesters who are back in the streets to show their anger against high taxes and his pro-business policies that they see as favoring the wealthy rather than the working class. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)