Police probe into ‘missing’ Bristol Black Lives Matter fundraising money
A woman has been arrested after the youth group did not receive £32,000 raised following the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston Police probe into ‘missing’ Bristol Black Lives Matter fundraising money
A woman has been arrested and a police investigation is underway into allegations that more than £30,000 raised on a crowdfunding page – connected to the Black Lives Matter demonstration that saw the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston – has been stolen.
Bristol Live understands that the woman in her 20s was questioned under caution about the money, which was raised before and after the June 7 demo that made headlines around the world.
The fundraising page set up ahead of the Black Lives Matter demonstration told potential donors the money would be given to Changing Your Mindset, a youth work charity based at the Malcolm X Centre in St Pauls.
The BLM demonstration, set up in the wake of the murder by a police officer of American man George Floyd in May 2020, took place on June 7, 2020 and saw an estimated 10,000 people gather in the city centre.
Those organising the event announced in speeches at College Green before the march that they were raising funds for Changing Your Mindset.
The march took place and, in an unplanned event, a breakaway group pulled down the statue of Bristol slave trade Edward Colston, and dumped the object in the docks. The fundraiser was then inundated with donations, and a total of £32,334 was raised in the following weeks.
In the days and weeks after the June 7 march, the Bristol Black Lives Matter group changed their name to All Black Lives Bristol, and affiliated themselves to a national All Black Lives UK organisation, to differentiate themselves from the American-based Black Lives Matter movement, and a Bristol-based Black Lives Matter organisation who had set up protests in 2017 and 2018 in Bristol.
A spokesperson from Changing Your Mindset confirmed the organisation has not received any of the money from the fundraising appeal, and a complaint has been made to Avon and Somerset police.
“Changing Your Mindset can confirm that on May 25, 2021, an allegation was made to Avon and Somerset police in relation to the non receipt of funds raised from the GoFundMe BrisBLM For Changing Your Mindset appeal, and that Avon and Somerset police have advised that they are now carrying out an investigation,” a spokesperson for the youth charity said.
“We thank those that have been affected for their patience,” she added.
The volunteers at Changing Your Mindset held a public meeting last month in St Pauls to break the news to parents and others in the community, Bristol Live understands. They, and the young people who were supposed to be receiving the money have told Bristol Live of their anger and shock.
A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset police confirmed that an arrest has been made.
“Enquiries are continuing following an allegation of theft,” the police spokesperson said.
“A female in her 20s was arrested on July 12, and was subsequently released under investigation,” he added.
Bristol Live asked All Black Lives Bristol about what has happened to the money and a spokesperson for All Black Lives UK responded.
They said it was an unfortunate and sensitive case involving mental health issues.
“The situation is sad and upsetting, but one we hope the community can come together to support one another through. We will not be adding anything further given the personal nature of the matter,” they added.