Arrest after £30,000 raised by BLM campaigners ‘goes missing’

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Statue of Bristol slave trader Edward Colston being thrown in the river was one of the ‘great cultural events of the Pandemic era’ (Reuters)
Statue of Bristol slave trader Edward Colston being thrown in the river was one of the ‘great cultural events of the Pandemic era’ (Reuters)

A woman has been arrested as part of a police investigation into why tens of thousands of pounds raised for a Bristol-based Black Lives Matter charity have allegedly gone missing.

More than £30,000 was donated via a GoFundMe link to the youth charity Changing Your Mindset in the wake of the toppling of a statue of slave trader Edward Colston last summer.

But the charity say they haven’t received a penny from the fundraiser, which was set up by campaign group Bristol Black Lives Matter (BrisBLM), and that they have alerted police to the possible theft.

Avon and Somerset Police confirmed that a woman in her twenties was arrested on 12 July before being released under investigation and that their enquiries continue.

Changing Your Mindset said in a statement that they intended to use the money raised to “take some of our community youth on an educational trip to Africa”, but that “despite repeated requests” to the fundraiser’s organiser they are yet to receive it.

BrisBLM, who have since changed their name to All Black Lives Bristol, have been contacted for comment. The national chapter of the organisation — All Black Lives UK — told the Bristol Post that the case is sensitive and and involves mental health issues.

“The situation is sad and upsetting, but one we hope the community can come together to support one another through,” a spokesperson said. “We will not be adding anything further given the personal nature of the matter.”

The fundraiser was set up ahead of a Black Lives Matter protest in the city in July last year as people across the globe reacted to the murder of George Floyd.

Protesters were told that money was being raised for Changing Your Mindset, a small youth charity operating out of Bristol’s Malcolm X Centre, at the demonstration, according to the Bristol Post.

But after a small group broke off to pull down the statue of Colston, which was then dumped in Bristol Harbour, the GoFundMe link went viral on social media, when a single person reportedly donated £20,000 of the £32,334 total.

Members of the local community have since expressed anger and disappointment that the money has allegedly gone missing after being alerted to the situation at a Changing Your Mindset meeting in July.

The charity thanked people for their “patience and understanding” as investigations continue.

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