Black Lives Matter Activist Convicted of Fraud After Misusing Charitable Donations

Xahra Saleem was jailed after pleading guilty to fraud

A Bristol court has sentenced Xahra Saleem, 23, to two and a half years of imprisonment for fraudulent activities involving charity funds. Saleem, recognized for organizing a protest where a statue of Edward Colston was removed, admitted to misappropriating over £30,000 intended for a charity aiding disadvantaged youth.

The prosecution at Bristol Crown Court outlined that Saleem, who was one of the central figures in the Bristol Black Lives Matter march on June 7, 2020, diverted donations meant for the charity ‘Changing Your Mindset’ to her personal use. This misuse of funds included expenses on luxury items and services, causing the charity’s eventual dissolution.

Alistair Haggerty, the prosecutor, detailed that Saleem began embezzling funds shortly after the charity was established, post the BLM march that gained international attention. The misappropriated funds, raised through a GoFundMe page, were intended for support sessions and an educational trip to Africa for young people in the St Pauls community.

Fellow charity directors testified that the fraud’s discovery tarnished their reputation and led to a loss of trust within the community. They attributed the charity’s closure directly to Saleem’s actions, expressing distress over the potential missed opportunities to aid the youth, citing the death of a young person they were supporting.

Defence counsel Tom Edwards portrayed Saleem as remorseful, highlighting her young age and personal challenges at the time of the offense, including substance misuse and mental health issues. Edwards also mentioned that Saleem lost a relative to violence during this period, though he emphasized this tragedy was not a consequence of her fraudulent actions.

Judge Michael Longman, presiding over the case, condemned Saleem’s abuse of trust, emphasizing the extensive impact of her sustained dishonesty on the charity, the beneficiaries, and the donors. Saleem, who had initially pled not guilty to two charges of fraud, saw the second charge, related to another fundraising initiative, left on file.

Outside the courtroom, affected community members voiced their discontent, underscoring the personal and collective losses endured due to Saleem’s fraud. The once promising initiative, Changing Your Mindset, now remains closed, its potential contributions to the community unfulfilled.

Author: CrimeDoor

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