Protesters clash with riot police in Nanterre, near Paris, on Friday. Donations in support of the police officer who shot and killed a youth of North African descent, which sparked the protests, has soared to more than $1 million. Photo by Yoan Valat/EPA-EFE
July 4 (UPI) — The U.S.-based fundraising site GoFundMe is refusing calls to take down a donation page set up by a conservative figure to support the family of the French police officer involved in the shooting of a 17-year-old boy.
The police officer was arrested and has been charged with voluntary homicide in last week’s shooting of Nahel Merzouk, whose death in suburban Paris a week ago set off the biggest wave of anti-racism protests and riots seen in France in decades.
The GoFundMe page for the officer’s family was set up by French conservative media personality Jean Messiha. It has raised nearly $1.63 million while a similar fundraiser for Nahel has raised $392,200, Radio France International reported.
“Support for the family of the Nanterre police officer, Florian M, who did his job and is now paying a heavy price,” the officer’s donate page says. “Support him massively and support our law enforcement.”
Protests have spread around France in support of the youth who was shot by police, which brought wider claims of police brutality and racial discrimination. Hundreds have been arrested in the uprisings where rioters have been blamed for looting stores, and burning down buildings and police stations.
Messiha’s fundraising efforts for the officer’s family have been met by outrage by an array of French politicians and advocates for minorities.
“You are hosting a GoFundMe fund of shame,” Socialist Party secretary Olivier Faure wrote in a Tweet. “You are perpetuating an already widening rift by helping to support a police officer under investigation for culpable homicide. Close!”
“Jean Messiha blows on the embers,” added Eric Bothorel, a lawmaker from Renaissance, President Emmanuel Macron‘s political party. “It is a generator of riots. The kitty of several hundred thousand euros for the police officer indicted in the homicide of young Nahel is indecent and scandalous.”
GoFundMe said there is no reason to take the site down.
“Currently, this fundraiser is within terms as the page states that the funds are going to support the family in question,” a GoFundMe spokesperson said in a statement sent to Euronews on Monday. “They have been added as the beneficiary, the money will flow directly to them.”