A fundraiser to support the family of the French police officer who shot and killed a runaway teenager driver has been disabled by the organizer after surpassing €1.6 million.
The GoFundMe campaign launched six days ago had amassed 85,105 individual donations from members of the public expressing solidarity with the officer before the ability to add further donations was paused on Wednesday evening with the total at €1,636,190.
The officer, known as Florian M., was detained and held on homicide charges after shooting dead 17-year-old Nahel M., a boy of Algerian descent who had attempted to drive off after being stopped by police.
A formal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident is now underway.
The incident has sparked mass rioting across major French cities, resulting in several fatalities including that of an on-duty firefighter and upwards of €1 billion in damage; hundreds of businesses have been looted, vehicles torched, and even residential apartments burned to the ground.
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The popularity of the fundraiser, which states its support for Florian M. “who has done his job and is now paying a high price,” is consistent with Ifop polling published by Le Figaro newspaper last week. The survey showed a majority of French citizens (57 percent) trust or sympathize with the police; 69 percent of respondents condemned the rioters and backed a state of emergency being invoked by the French government.
A separate fundraiser was also launched to provide support to the mother of the deceased teenager and has received €424,544 — a quarter of the funds achieved for the police officers’ family.
The crowdfunder for Florian M. and his family was widely criticized by left-wing French politicians, who claimed it sent the wrong message.
“The assumed message is ‘kill Arabs and you will become millionaires,'” wrote David Guiraud, an MP for the La France Insoumise (LFI) party.
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Even prominent members of the French government attacked the fundraiser, including Minister Delegate of Cities and Housing Olivier Klein, who claimed it was associated with an ulterior motive of the “extreme right,” and Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti, who told France Inter it did “not serve to calm the situation” in the country.
It is unknown whether or not the crowdfunder will resume, nor whether the French government has intervened to request its removal.
Jean Messiha, the organizer of the fundraiser who is an economist, former senior civil servant, and the president of the Vivre Français think tank, has faced accusations of “organized gang fraud” and corruption from the deceased’s family in relation to the funds, allegations he intends to contest in court.
“How is it a provocation to help a family that is in turmoil? This policeman is sleeping in prison, he has a wife and a young child who have been forced to leave their accommodation because their address was broadcast on social networks,” Messiha told CNews’ “Morandini Live” program Wednesday.
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“The political system has mobilized for Nahel, but who has mobilized for this policeman and his family?
“Losing a child is horrible, I understand it very well. I have never criticized Nahel’s mother. But why will it be necessary to overwhelm the policeman’s family?” he asked.
Messiha vehemently denied any wrongdoing regarding the campaign and insisted they are ring-fenced solely for the policeman’s family.
“Who did I defraud? Who is the gang? I am in contact with the policeman’s wife, who is the only beneficiary. I am also in contact with his lawyer. I have no intention of doing anything outside the law,” he added.