A Black Lives Matter (BLM) activist who led the protest in toppling of Edward Colston’s statue in the UK, has been jailed for two and half years for defrauding donors.
Xahra Saleem spent over £30,000 ($36,000) from donations earmarked for charity so she could enjoy her lavish lifestyle.
The activist, 23, helped mastermind the headline-grabbing BLM demo in Bristol in June 2020, which saw trader Colston’s statue toppled and dumped in the harbor.
Following a police investigation into a GoFundMe page called ‘BristBLM,’ Saleem admitted fraud.
The BLM activist received £32,344 in donations from a total of 558 individual contributions, before she was caught ans subsequently jailed.
However, she spent the money on her lifestyle, this included:
Hair and beauty appointments
Bristol Crown Court heard that she also spent £6,000 on Uber rides.
Xahra Saleem helped organise the toppling of Edward Colston's statue in Bristol. She went on to defraud the public of £30,000 in donations for her BLM cause.— David Atherton (@DaveAtherton20) October 31, 2023
She spent the money on rent, ubers, hair & beauty appointments.
Bristol Crown Court jailed for two-and-a-half years. pic.twitter.com/5rJl6DPxSH
The Daily Mail reported:
Saleem, of Romford, Essex, was jailed for two-and-a-half years at a sentencing hearing today.
Defending, Tom Edwards, said she was left ‘extremely sorry’ and said Saleem was only 20 when she was trusted with a very large amount of money and was living away from home for the first time.
She had also been drinking heavily and taking drugs at the time and had mental health issues.
Directors of Changing Your Mindset went so far as to say one young person who died might have been saved if they had been able to continue – as their relationship with the community deteriorated.
The man – Saleem’s cousin – was the victim of a stabbing, but her defense said it was not something that could be attributed to her.
In her sentencing, Saleem was described by Alistair Haggerty, prosecuting, as a ‘prominent figure’ in the city.
But he said she ‘succumbed to temptation’ as she splurged on purchases for herself.
As she was questioned why the money had not reached the charity, she claimed that Black Lives Matter had advised her not to, among other excuses.
Other organizers of the controversial protest were left horrified by her crimes – saying the community had lost trust in them, making directors decide to close the charity.
Rebecca Scott – who was awarded an MBE for supporting disadvantaged communities in Bristol – told the court: “This felt like our chance to really have an impact.”
She explained that they were ‘blown away’ by how much money was raised but were left feeling ‘complicit’ in Saleem’s crimes.
Judge Michael Longman said the activist’s victims included the young people she promised to help, telling the court: “Your dishonest behavior continued for a substantial amount of time.”
“There were a large number of victims. You must have realized how much your behavior would affect so many people.”
In a statement released after the hearing, Jay Daley and Deneisha Royal from the youth group Changing Your Mindset said they continued to feel let down.
“It doesn’t feel that justice has been fully served as we are unlikely to get back the money from her. It feels like we are being punished.”
“It saddens me that a member of our community could do this to us because they knew and understood the goal we set out to achieve in order to positively change our community.”
“For me, the group was a safe place. A refuge that I could relax without concern for my safety.”
“For some members, it was an opportunity to cook a meal, collect donations, and receive support for mental health as well as learn about new things such as employment opportunities.”
“If we were to get the money back, we would go on the trip, and members of the group would reestablish the group and make changes to the community and use time on the trip to plan for this.”
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.