Xahra Saleem, one of the organizers of the Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol, has pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position, which has raised significant backlash from social media. Here’s the full story.
GoFundMe Started for “Safety of Participants”
The charges stem from a GoFundMe campaign called ‘BristBLM,’ which was started to raise funds for face masks and equipment to ensure the safety of participants during the BLM protest in June 2020.
However, an investigation by Avon and Somerset Police revealed that £30,000 raised from donors went missing.
Saleem, aged 23, initially faced two charges of fraud with one related to the ‘BristBLM’ campaign, and the other to a separate fundraising page named ‘Bristol Protesters Legal Fees.’ The latter was created shortly after the toppling of the statue of slave trader Edward Colston.
Excess Funds to Be Donated to a Charity
The agreement for the ‘BristBLM’ campaign was that any excess funds would be donated to the charity Changing Your Mindset Ltd, a youth group based in Bristol’s St. Paul area.
The intended purpose of these funds was to help young people embark on a trip to Africa. However, investigations suggest that Saleem, formerly known as Yvonne Maina, may have used the money raised for personal purposes.
Saleem’s change of plea from not guilty to guilty for the first charge led to the discontinuation of the second charge by the Crown Prosecution Service.
A trial that was initially scheduled for December has been affected by this change, and Saleem is now set to be sentenced at Bristol Crown Court at the end of October.
Toppling of Statue Pivotal Moment
The toppling of Edward Colston’s statue into Bristol harbor on June 7, 2020, was a pivotal moment during the BLM protests in the UK. While some applauded the removal of a symbol associated with slavery, others decried it as political vandalism.
Subsequently, four protesters—Rhian Graham, Milo Ponsford, Sage Willoughby, and Jake Skuse—became known as the “Colston Four” and were cleared of criminal damage charges related to the statue’s removal.
The case has also brought to light the closure of Changing Your Mindset, the intended recipient of the funds from the ‘BristBLM’ campaign.
Funds Likely Unretrievable
A spokesperson for the organization stated that they were still working to retrieve the funds but expressed doubts about the likelihood of success.
The spokesperson said, “It is devastating that some of our young people are no longer with us to see the justice that the team at Changing Your Mindset lost sleep and worked hard to get.”
“Often, we were wrongfully judged as thieves, by people expected to support us. The theft and overall lack of support hindered the staff and the young people in accessing the services delivered to them, eventually resulting in Changing Your Mindset sadly closing a year later,” she added.
Entitlement “Elevated… to an Art Form”
Several social media users shared their thoughts on the incident.
One Twitter user wrote, “What has BLM ever done apart from doing their hardest to cause division and line their own pockets? Billions in bank accounts. What have they done to help the black communities?”
Another user added, “So how does this work now?? Who will BLM supporters blame for this injustice?? And how many will spin it to make BLM the victims here?”
A third user commented, “Ah Bristol, we really do produce and attract people of a whole different level of entitlement, who really consider themselves a cut above the rest. It’s as if they have elevated it to an art form.”
The post Shocking Betrayal: BLM Organizer Pleads Guilty to Fraud as £30,000 Vanishes first appeared on The Net Worth Of.
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