Ex-boxing champ surrenders after punching French police

Mae Harvey
January 11, 2019

Mr Philippe told TF1 television, "Today, if we want to defend the freedom to demonstrate... we must evolve our law and supplement our legislative system".

The new law would ban troublemakers-who Philippe called "casseurs", or thugs-from protests and crack down on people at demonstrations who hide their faces with masks.

"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.

The onus would be on "the troublemakers, and not taxpayers, to pay for the damage caused" to businesses and property during the protests, Philippe added.

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

"The French Boxing Federation sends its support to the family and loved ones of the officer who was a victim of this individual, but equally to all the security forces who have been on duty these last weeks", it said.

The protests were launched in anger over fuel tax hikes, but have swelled with broader anger over president Emmanuel Macron's economic policies, considered by opponents to favor the rich. The package, estimated at 10 billion euros ($11.46 billion), includes a 100-euro monthly increase to the minimum salary. Macron promised the legal retirement age will remain at 62 but the changes might reduce some other advantages.

That is likely to be closely scrutinized as he prepares to bring in stricter rules for unemployment benefits and cut thousands of public sector jobs.

The head of France's employers federation, MEDEF International, warned on Tuesday that footage of the protests would scare off foreign tourists.

Di Maio applauded the yellow vest's interest in direct democracy, offering to provide the yellow vests with some of the online tools the Movement employs to organize grassroots events on a local level and to choose its representatives - despite the yellow vests' lack of formal spokespeople.

Two months after they started blocking roads, occupying highway tollbooths and staging sometimes-violent street protests in Paris, the yellow vests aim to inject new momentum into a movement that weakened over the holidays.

Deputy Premier and Labour and Industry Minister Luigi Di Maio hit back on Tuesday after French European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau told Italian officials to butt out after expressing support for the Yellow Vests protest movement. The move underscored the increasingly sour relations between Rome and Paris, which have previously clashed over immigration policy, among other issues.

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