An organiser of the Black Lives Matter protests that toppled Edward Colston’s statue has admitted fraud after £30,000 raised from donors went missing.
Xahra Saleem, 23, pleaded guilty to one count of fraud by abuse of position after an investigation into a fundraiser linked to the BLM movement.
Avon and Somerset Police investigated a GoFundMe page called ‘BristBLM’ initially set up for the demonstration on June 7, 2020 after the donation money disappeared.
Saleem had set up the crowdfunding page to raise money for face masks and other equipment to help facilitate the march legally, given it was taking place at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic.
An agreement is said to have been made that any excess funds would go to charity Changing Your Mindset Ltd – which was a youth group based in the St Pauls area of Bristol – so young people could go on a trip to Africa.
Changing Your Mindset has since closed down.
A spokesperson for the group told Bristol Live that the group was still working to retrieve the money, but it appeared unlikely.
The Colston statue was pushed into Bristol harbour on June 7, 2020, during protests related to the death of George Floyd in the US, and the subsequent global BLM movement.
Saleem, of Romford, Essex, initially entered not-guilty pleas to two charges of fraud.
The second charge related to a separate online fundraising page set up in the days following the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston in June 2020, called ‘Bristol Protesters Legal Fees’.
A trial was listed for December – but Saleem appeared at Bristol Crown Court on September 19 to change her plea to guilty for the first charge.
The second charge was discontinued by the Crown Prosecution Service.
She will return to Bristol Crown Court to be sentenced on October 31.
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