After being racially profiled by police in Tiburon, California, a Kenyan-born businessman and his wife will receive $150,000 (Sh17.3 million) as compensation.
Yema Khalif, who was born in Nairobi’s Kibera slums, and his wife Hawi Awash claim they were racially profiled in August 2020 when a Tiburon police officer asked them to verify they owned their apparel business.
The officer is said to have visited the couple’s store late at night and demanded that they identify themselves, a request they denied.
This resulted in a verbal spat, with Khalif and Awash maintaining that they did not need to prove their right to be in their own downtown boutique, Yema.
“The officer should have knocked, introduced himself, and explained he was patrolling Main Street,” Awash said.
“But instead it was more like, ‘Who are you? And prove yourself.’”
After the owner of a nearby business confirmed to the officer that the couple owned the store, the disagreement between the two was resolved.
But it was after a video of the event went viral, that the Tiburon police department received backlash, causing a police sergeant to quit.
Khalif and Awash sued for $2 million last year, alleging emotional pain, possible revenue loss, and punitive damages.
Last Monday, the city of Tiburon struck a $150,000 settlement with the victims as well as a commitment to make Marin County more inclusive.
Tiburon intends to establish a community advisory group to help select candidates for the Tiburon police force. Khalif and Awash will be on the board of directors.
“This isn’t about just me and Yema. It’s about every single Black and Brown person that comes into the Tiburon community, that comes into the Belvedere community,” said Awash.
A portion of their settlement will be donated to a foundation that helps educate children in Kenya and Ethiopia.