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Black British nurse says now is the time to call out racism

Neomi Bennett, a 47-year-old British nurse, announced that she had chosen this crucial moment to go public about her arrest last year because she felt it was now possible to raise complaints about the treatment of Black people that were previously brushed aside.

“Before this, if I ever mentioned the problems, the struggles of being a Black person, you would immediately be shut down and told you’ve got a chip on your shoulder,” she explained to the media in an interview.

Amid global protests against racism and police brutality, sparked by the dramatic murder of George Floyd in Minnesota (United States), Britain has been grappling with its record of discrimination against Black people too.

Nurse Neomi Bennett poses for a photo at her home in London, Britain. Image credit Reuters, Peter Cziborra

Bennett, who in April 2019 was pulled from her car, arrested and then kept in a cell for 18 hours, believes she was treated unfairly and aggressively during what she said was a “petrifying” late-night encounter with police. And all of this only because she is Black.

London’s Metropolitan Police deny mistreating her and say she was arrested for refusing to cooperate with an officer’s reasonable instructions.

At various points during the incident happened in southwest London, Bennett explained how much scared she was. She tried to call a lawyer, called her father, and added she did not want to be touched by any male officer.

An officer reported more than once that Bennett would have been arrested if she hadn’t stepped out of her car. However, footage of the encounter was captured by a camera worn by the officer who spoke to Bennett.

Image credit Reuters, Peter Cziborra

Bennett was then pulled out, handcuffed, arrested and told that she was suspected of having stolen property in her car. She was later convicted of obstructing the police force but appealed against her conviction. In May, her appeal was allowed after prosecutors decided not to oppose it.

In a statement released later, police declared that no illegal items were found in Bennett’s car.

Yet, Bennett is now pursuing a complaint against the police.


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