A Black Lives Matter activist in Bristol, England has been charged with fraud in connection to allegedly missing money from a fundraising page established to provide legal fees for those who toppled the statue of Edward Colston.
Avon and Somerset Police announced this week that BLM activist Xahra Saleem, 22, has been charged with two counts of fraud over two fundraising pages and will appear before a magistrates court in Bristol in January, the Bristol Post reported.
The first charge relates to allegedly missing money from the ‘Bristol Protesters Legal Fees’ fund that was set up after the statue 17th century merchant and parliamentarian Edward Colston was toppled, defaced, and pushed into Bristol Harbour in June of 2020 following the death of George Floyd.
Colston became a subject of ire for local left-wing activists over his connections to the slave trade, a practice that was widely accepted during his lifetime and was later stamped out internationally by the British Empire, which became the first major power to abolish the practice and paid dearly in blood and treasure to shut down other powers’ slave routes.
The tearing down of the Colston statue in Bristol came amid nationwide unrest from Black Lives Matter activists in 2020, with other statues honouring Sir Winston Churchill, Queen Victoria, and the national war memorial, among others, also being targeted for vandalisation.
Despite not denying their role in the toppling of the Colston statue, four defendants were acquitted by a jury earlier this year after their lawyers argued that they were on the “right side of history“.
Saleem was also charged for fraud in relation to the ‘BristBLM’ GoFundMe page that was set up in June of 2020 after donation money allegedly went missing.
The crowdfunding pitch had reportedly promised to donate the proceeds to the local youth charity, Changing Your Mindset. However, the money allegedly never made its way to the charity, which had intended to send local teenagers on a trip to West Africa with the funds. Police initially made the arrest following allegations made by the charity.
This week a spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said: “A woman is due in court at the start of next year after the Crown Prosecution Service authorised charges following a fraud investigation.
“Xahra Saleem, 22 and from East London, has been charged with two counts of fraud by abuse of position. She is due before Bristol Magistrates Court on Tuesday 3 January 2023.”
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