Romain Bonvoisin

Komorebi Post – January the 5th, during the eighth demonstration of the Yellow Vests in Paris, Christophe Dettinger, a retired boxer punched a policeman on a bridge. Despite his body armor and a large shield, the policeman struggled to stay still. This scene was filmed and shared on all the social media in France before being screened on the news. As stated in Le Parisien newspaper, Dettinger was taken in custody the following Wednesday and is waiting for his trial on February 13th.

This was the starting point of a large battle of opinion: some “Yellow vests”, support the boxer’s self defense against police repression, for police supporters, he embodies the drift of the non-violent movement into a chaotic riot. Later on, a family member Dettinger’s family launched a crowd fund in Leetchi funding platform- to pay for his attorney while the boxer is still in custody since 7th January. In less than two days, the fund allocated around 117 thousand euros.

The success of this allocating this fund was over all French national news and social media alike. Parliament members of the government have strongly denounced this initiative. On an interview on France Info, Marlene Schiappa, The State’s Secretary of Men and Women equality, asked Leetchi to give the names of the people who gave donations. Under such pressure, the platform decided to stop the fund, and published a statement on its blog to express its neutrality.

After this incident, crowd funding on French social media spread like a fever. First, on January 8th, Renaud Muselier, President of Provence Alpes Côtes d’Azur,(southern region of France), launched also on Leetchi another fund to support police, reaching almost 1,5 million euros, and still open for the public. On January 10th, according to Le Monde newspaper, Leetchi had to shut down for maintenance because of overwhelming servers. The funds multiply, mostly to support Yellow Vests movement or the Police forces.

The explanation of this explosion of funds creation and the large amount of money pouring into them, apart from the buzz it made, might be found in the system of crowd funding itself. The battle of opinion can be measured through figures appearing on the fund, the number of participants and, most importantly, the amount of money. The contribution to these funds is not only to support a cause or a person because of financial difficulties; many funds are dedicated to permit associations to follow their work, or individuals to get the necessary budgets for humanitarian reasons like a disease. It also expresses an opinion, made stronger as the money flows and the participants become more. Another social media, where the “likes” are replaced by euros, are considered perhaps more engaged as it has a financial physical consequence on the participant thus making it possible to quantify the opinion.

Many fund openers try to follow these new social media practices, with more or less success. As a fund title: support no one, the founder genuinely expressed difficulties to take sides: “Today I don’t support any side, and with this fund, I would like to represent neutrality in this debate”; 0 participant and euros for the moment. Other are more creative, even provocative, as the fund to “to silence Marlene Schiappa”; 1296 participant and nearly 3000 euros.

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