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The peaceful demonstration turned in violent clashes after police fired tear gas to prevent protesters from reaching parliament.
A former French boxing champion filmed landing punches on riot police away from the official ‘yellow vest’ protest in Paris last weekend in a video that quickly became viral on social media turned himself in on Monday, saying he was defending himself.
Christophe Dettinger, who was twice national light-heavyweight champion, was seen on camera jumping over the railings of a pedestrian bridge blocked by baton-wielding police before swinging blows at the officers, forcing them to retreat.
Nicknamed the “Gypsy of Massy”, the 1.92m tall Dettinger was taking part in an-eighth Saturday of protests against economic and social inequality and President Emmanuel Macron’s neoliberal policies.
“I was gassed with my friend, my wife, and at some point I was taken over by anger, so yes I acted badly. I acted badly, but I defended myself,” Dettinger said in a video posted on Facebook before he handed himself into police who arrested him.
In another video, Dettinger, wearing a black hat, gloves and coat but no mask, can be seen kicking a policeman on the ground. One of the officers the former boxer attacked has been sent on 15 days’ sick-leave, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office.
Macron has been heavily criticized over excessive use of violence and policing tactics, with many protestors, including students and teenagers, losing a hand or an eye because of the use of flashballs and tear gas.
Nevertheless, Macron still refuses to meet the yellow vests' main demands — a referendum on a wide range of national issues and the reinstoration of the tax on France's wealthiest citizens. Instead, he is preparing a series of measures implementing sanctions against unemployed people and cutting thousands of public sector jobs.