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 whole story.
The charges stem from a GoFundMe campaign called ‘BristBLM,’ formed to raise funds for face masks and equipment to ensure the safety of participants during the BLM protest in June 2020.
£30,000 Went Missing
However, an investigation by Avon and Somerset Police revealed that £30,000 raised from donors went missing.
Two Charges of Fraud
Saleem, aged 23, initially faced two charges of fraud, 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.
The agreement for the ‘BristBLM’ campaign was to donate any excess funds to the charity Changing Your Mindset Ltd, a youth group based in Bristol’s St. Paul’s area.
The intended purpose of these funds was to let young people embark on a trip to Africa.
The Money Was Used for Personal Purposes
However, investigations suggest that Saleem, formerly known as Yvonne Maina, may have used the money raised for personal purposes.
She Pleads Guilty
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.
The toppling of Edward Colston’s statue into Bristol harbor on June 7, 2020, was pivotal 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—who became known as the “Colston Four” were cleared of criminal damage charges related to the statue’s removal.
The Charity Was Closed
The case has also brought to light the closure of Changing Your Mindset, the intended recipient of the funds from the ‘BristBLM’ campaign.
This Is Devastating
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.”
Wrongfully Judged as Thieves
“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.
Twitter Users Expressed Their Views
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?”
How Does This Work Now?
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?”
Different Level of Entitlement
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.”
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The post Black Lives Matter Organizer’s £30,000 Scndal Exposed: Is This the Movement’s Demise? first appeared on Mama Say What?!.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Eugenio Marongiu. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.