Bristol Black Lives Matter organiser changes plea to guilty after £30,000 crowdfunder goes missing

She is accused of using the money raised for herself
Xahra Saleem has changed her plea to guilty Xahra Saleem has changed her plea to guilty
Xahra Saleem has changed her plea to guilty

One of the organisers of the Black Lives Matter demonstration that saw the toppling of Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol has pleaded guilty to fraud over a fundraiser linked to the protest movement.

Xahra Saleem, 23, allegedly spent tens of thousands of pounds raised via a GoFundMe called ‘BristBLM’ for a Bristol youth group called Changing Your Mindset to use for a trip to Africa.

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Saleem had initially started the crowdfunding page to raise money for PPE for the march as it was during the Covid-19 pandemic and agreed that any remaining funds would go to the youth group so young people could go on a ‘life-changing’ trip to Africa.

But Saleem - who changed her name from Yvonne Maina - is accused of using that money for herself.

Saleem initially entered not guilty pleas to two charges of fraud after a lengthy investigation by Avon and Somerset Police which looked into money which allegedly went missing from a crowdfunder initially set up for the demo on 7 June in 2020. The second charge was connected to a separate online fundraising page set up soon after the toppling of the Colston statue and called ‘Bristol Protestors Legal Fees’.

Saleem appeared at Bristol Crown Court last week to change her plea to guilty for the first charge. The second charge was discontinued by the Crown Prosecution Service.

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Saleem, of Romford, Essex, will return to Bristol Crown Court to be sentenced at the end of October.

Changing Your Mindset ceased operating after more than £30,000 raised through the fundraiser allegedly went missing.

The money was to pay for the continuation of weekly support sessions plus an educational visit for the young users to West Africa.

But the cash never arrived in Changing Your Mindset’s bank account and all plans for the trip were put on hold.

Bristol World has contacted Changing Your Mindset for a comment.

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