A collection for the French policeman who sparked nationwide riots by killing a teenager during a traffic stop has been growing, prompting outrage among politicians and activists.
Set up by Jean Messiha, a former adviser to the French far-right politician Marine Le Pen, the appeal on GoFundMe had raised 963,000 euros ($1.05m) at the time of writing on Monday.
On June 27, the accused officer was filmed shooting into a car being driven by Nahel M, a 17-year-old of North African descent.
The shot killed the teenager and has led to days of unrest across France, as anger rages over the incident.
Nahel’s grandmother, Nadia, was recently asked about the crowdfunding campaign, and she replied: “My heart aches.”
The boy’s death has renewed debates on France’s long and troubled history with its ethnic minority populations, and allegations of police brutality.
Centrist and left-wing politicians condemned Messiha’s collection drive.
Eric Bothorel, from the En Marche party of President Emmanuel Macron, wrote on Twitter: “Jean Messiha blows on the embers. It is a generator of riots. The pot of several hundred thousand euros for the police officer indicted in the homicide of young Nahel is indecent and scandalous.”
Olivier Faure, head of the Socialist Party, called on GoFundMe to close the fundraiser, accusing the platform of “hosting a pot of shame”.
“You maintain an already gaping fracture by participating in support of a police officer indicted for intentional homicide. Close!”
Some called out the hypocrisy of the pot still taking donations.
In 2019, the fund for a former boxer who had punched several police officers during “yellow vest” anti-government demonstrations in 2019 was quickly closed down.
Left-wing politician David Guiraud wrote on Twitter: “The assumed message is kill Arabs, and you will become millionaires, and the government watches this horror pass without saying anything when it had closed the yellow vest pot in 2 days who hit a policeman. Repugnant.”
The French activist group Sleeping Giants tweeted the “sheer existence” of the fund “inflames the sentiment of injustice and furthers tensions”.
Amid the riots, which often feature vandalism and see protesters clash with police, France has been deploying 45,000 officers onto the streets each night to quell unrest in cities including Paris, Strasbourg, Marseille and Nice.
On Monday, demonstrations began at French town halls opposing the riots, during which violence and looting has also been reported.
Called a “mobilisation of citizens for a return to republican order”, the anti-riot rallies came after the home of the mayor of a Paris suburb was rammed with a flaming car.
French riot police officers walk next to a vehicle upside down during the fifth day of protests following the death of Nahel, a 17-year-old teenager killed by a French police officer
French riot police officers walk next to a vehicle upside down during the fifth day of protests following teenager Nahel’s killing by a French police officer in Nanterre during a traffic stop, in Paris, France [Juan Medina/Reuters]
Fewer than 160 people were arrested on Sunday night, down from 700 the night before and far fewer than the 1,300 arrested on Friday night.
Nadia told BFM TV that rioters were using her grandson’s death as an excuse to incite chaos.
“I tell them to stop it. It’s mothers who take buses, it’s mothers who walk outside. We should calm things, we don’t want them to break things,” she said.