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BLM Activist Sentenced to Jail for Embezzling £30,000 from Online Fundraiser for Personal Use

A Black Lives Matter activist who stole £30,000 from an online fundraising page and spent the money on hair, clothes, taxis, and takeaway food has been jailed.

A Black Lives Matter (BLM) activist who stole £30,000 from an online fundraising page and spent it on “lifestyle expenses” has been jailed for 2.5 years for fraud.

Xahra Saleem, 23, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud in relation to a charitable company called Changing Your Mindset, set up in 2020 during the BLM movement. Saleem was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court on Tuesday.

The online fundraising page was established in 2020 during BLM protests in Bristol, which included the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston.

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Sentencing Saleem, Judge Michael Longman told her: “You abused your position as the director of a company, Changing Your Mindset, and committed this offense over a period of time. As an organizer of the Black Lives Matter march in Bristol, you gained a high public profile, which you used to raise funds for helping young people in St. Paul’s, a highly worthwhile cause.”

He added, “Instead, you used that money for your personal benefit, not theirs, funding a lifestyle that you couldn’t normally afford.”

The court heard that over a 15-month period, Saleem withdrew money from the Changing Your Mindset account and made 2,512 payments totaling £44,815 from her bank accounts, primarily for “lifestyle expenses.”

Prosecutor Alistair Haggerty stated, “These were not significant purchases. Some money was spent on shopping, bills, a new iPhone and iMac, but the majority was spent on hair, beauty, clothes, Amazon purchases, taxis, and takeaways.”

According to Haggerty, Saleem spent £5,800 on Uber rides between July 2020 and June 2021.

‘I’ve Done Something Horrendous’

The court discovered incriminating WhatsApp messages on Saleem’s phone after her arrest.

In one message to a friend, she confessed, “I’ve done something horrendous. You can’t tell anyone until I’ve sorted it out. I experience severe psychosis, which I have mentioned to psychiatrists. This charity asked me to hold money for them, God knows why. Let’s just say my brain spent it. I couldn’t tell you on what, where, or why. I don’t know what I spent it on.”

 Protesters throwing the statue of Edward Colston into Bristol harbour on June 7, 2020. (Ben Birchall/PA)
Protesters throwing the statue of Edward Colston into Bristol harbour on

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