BLM Protest Organizer in UK Sent to Jail After Using $30K In Donations On Personal Expenses
Xahra Saleem, the 23-year-old former director of the youth group Change Your Mindset, has been sentenced to two years in jail for spending over $30,000 in donated funds on a variety of personal expenses, The Independent reports. Saleem raised the money via a GoFundMe created to help organize a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Bristol, which resulted in the toppling of a statue erected in memory of former slave owner Edward Colston.
The publicity and success of the Black Lives Matter event led to nearly $40,000 in donations. Saleem promised to pour any remaining funds into Change Your Mindset.
Saleem used the donated money to fund everything from excessive Uber trips to beauty products and food deliveries. After relocating the money to a personal bank account, Saleem began a 15-month spending spree.
“With no other regular income or wage coming into the account, she made 2,512 payments, including amounts on an iPhone, iMac, hair and beauty treatments, clothing stores, Amazon purchases, food takeaways, and more than £5,800 on Uber,” said prosecutor Alistair Haggerty.
After being approached by members of the organization, who presented her with an ultimatum to transfer the funds in June 2021, Saleem confessed to spending the misappropriated funds via an email, The Independent reports.
“I am so sorry, I am still trying to understand my actions as well,” she wrote in the email. The fallout from Saleem’s action included a canceled educational trip to Africa as well as the eventual closing of the organization. The funds were also meant to provide weekly cooking classes and career and life coaching for minors.
“We were led on a journey of deceit which was full of lies and left us having to clear our own names and stop the group sessions,” the group said, according to The Independent.
Saleem initially denied any fraudulent behavior when she appeared in court in January 2023 before she entered a guilty plea in September.
“You did not set out to defraud anyone, but you took the opportunity when you had control of the company’s money to spend it on your own expenses,” Judge Michael Longman said at the sentencing.