A woman says her Birmingham family were victimised in a hate incident at a Midlands tourist spot.
Panya Banjoko, a curator at the Nottingham Castle in her 50s, was visited in her East Midlands home city by her family members from Birmingham.
The incident – which happened on Tuesday, August 17 – saw Ms Banjoko visited by four grandchildren and her daughter.
She told NottinghamshireLive : “I was with four of my grandchildren and my daughter and we were highly visible because we were six black women walking around the castle.”
She then experienced a few “minor incidents” – as she puts it – before the moment that caused distress to her granddaughters.
“We had a couple of minor issues but nothing blatant – until later. The first problem occurred when were denied access to one of the exhibitions.
“Now because I am a curator at the castle, I have a free access pass that allows me to go to all the exhibitions. I was told right there that me and my family cannot go in.
“I had a full pass and I could actually do everything that I wanted to do on that day with my grandchildren. We did not want to make a fuss, we did not want to do anything so we left.
“It sounds horrible, it sounds wrong – but you become desensitised to those kinds things.
“I took the name of the person and I thought I would follow that up later but right there I had my grandkids with me, and I did not want to make a big scene of it and spoil their day.”
These are the definitions used by the police of what constitutes a hate incident and what is a hate crime. Some examples of hateful speech and actions are designated as crimes; others may be recorded as incidents which don’t cross the threshold into criminal activity.
What is a Hate Incident?
Any non-crime incident, which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or perceived race, religion or perceived religion, sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation, disability or perceived disability or against a person who is or perceived to be transgender.
What is a Hate Crime?
A Hate Crime is any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards a person based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or who is transgender, or because of perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgenderism.
Ms Banjoko said she then went outside to get some fresh air and enjoy the view.
Her daughter and one of the children walked their way to a shop to buy coffee.
The Nottingham curator took the rest of the children to the adventure playground to run and play ‘like children do’ while she was sat on the grass nearby.
It was not until later when Ms Banjoko heard a scream, and then eye-witnessed the ‘horrible’ incident.
She added: “I saw my by granddaughter being punched by another child.
“I saw the child’s mother standing there and I immediately got across the grass, went over to the mother and said: ‘What’s going on here? Your your child is hitting my granddaughter.’
“The mother said that it has nothing to do with me and I should not care.”
Ms Banjoko also claims that two of her granddaughters, aged seven and 11, and her eight-year-old grandson have been shouted at while they were playing.
She said the oldest girl said she was kicked in the stomach while the youngest claimed she was pushed to the ground.
“They were also called dumb black girls”, Ms Banjoko added.
“The kid’s mum told me her daughter can do what she likes.
“And then her daughter pulled a camera from my granddaughter’s neck and threw it away.”
The heartbroken grandmother said she approached the staff at the castle, asking for help.
She claims that no one listened to her, and a member of the senior management team “kettled her into a corner” and said she was “aggressive”.
“I then had a conversation with her about it and asked if she knows how contentious it is calling a black woman angry and aggressive when in fact I was distressed and upset.”
Ted Cantle CBE, Chair of the Nottingham Castle Trust board, has addressed this claim and said: “This is a serious allegation and we are treating it as such.
“We are continuing to review the full details of what happened as well as supporting the police with their enquiries.”
Despite her desperate calls for help, Ms Banjoko said she did not get anywhere and condemns the attitude of the staff at the Nottingham Castle.
“When I was talking to the staff it was like they could not hear the words coming out of my mouth.
“But there were two issues here – one is the assault which the police are dealing with now.
“The other major issue is the castle’s inaction.
“The lack of response for me that is the bigger issue because that means that the same thing can happen again.
“I am articulate, I have a profile in the community a lot of people know me because I do poetry, because I’m the founder of Black Archives.
“So I have, I have that prestige about me, and yet this is still how I was treated.”
Ms Banjoko has also raised concerns about the lack of diversity within the staff and exhibitions at the Nottingham Castle and has called for change.
In response, a spokesperson for the Nottingham Castle added: “We are always striving to improve the diversity of the exhibitions and of our own team.
“Since opening just two months ago, the Castle has been successful in portraying many facets of Nottingham’s history, including its diverse communities.
“We would welcome a meeting with Ms Banjoko to discuss how we can continue to implement positive change.”
Ms Banjoko said her granddaughters were left traumatised after the “horrible incident”.
She added: “They were very quiet after that.
“I have them over during non-term time to look after them, so that my daughter does not have to pay for childcare.
“They are supposed to be safe in my care and I failed to keep them safe.”
Mr Cantle added: “We are deeply concerned by the incident that happened at Nottingham Castle on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 17.
“Our staff followed formal processes in a situation involving complaints from two families.
“A number of staff were involved to try to calm the situation but matters escalated, and security was involved.
“Staff are not able to physically detain guests and the trust would not expect them to do so, but the castle team called the police swiftly and statements to capture information were gained.
“Officers are now investigating the matter and we are working with them as part of their enquiries.
“Contact was made with Ms Banjoko following the incident to apologise for the distress suffered by her family and herself.
“We called the police and officers are investigating the matter and we are working with them as part of their enquiries.
“We are doing everything we can internally to address what happened in order for us to move forward in the best possible way.
“In any situation like this, we are always looking at our processes and how we can improve them.
“We received no report or any detail of Ms Banjoko being denied entry to an exhibition.
“We suspect this could be in relation to the Cave Tours and Robin Hood Adventures which were both fully booked on the day.
“These are ticketed and timed activities which need to be booked in advance and there is limited capacity due to the available space inside the exhibit.”
A spokesperson for Nottinghamshire Police added: “Nottinghamshire Police received a report of a hate incident at Nottingham Castle on 17 August.
“We take any incidents of hate very seriously and will be investigating this report thoroughly with the view of taking appropriate action.
“Anyone who is a victim of hate crime is encouraged to report it to the police either through 101 or in an emergency, dial 999.
“Any victims of hate crime who want support from Nottinghamshire Police or our partners can contact the team on [email protected]”