News April 22, 2022 at 10:30 am

Black couple reach $150K settlement after police asked them to prove they were the owners of their store

Francis Akhalbey | Content Manager

Francis Akhalbey April 22, 2022 at 10:30 am

April 22, 2022 at 10:30 am | News

Yema Khalif and his wife Hawi Awash have reached $150K settlement with Tiburon -- Photo via @hawi_yema on Instagram

A Black couple, who accused Tiburon police of racially profiling them while they were working in their own clothing store, announced they have reached a $150,000 settlement with the town, ABC7 reported.

The August 2020 incident occurred when Tiburon police approached Yema Khalif and his wife Hawi Awash while they were working late in their clothing store. One of the officers asked the couple to prove they were the real owners of the store. And it had to take a White neighbor to confirm to the officers that the Black couple owned the store. That ultimately calmed the situation.

The incident went viral after body camera and cell photo footage of what transpired was circulated. The Tiburon police chief and one of the officers who went to the store resigned in the aftermath of the incident.

Besides the monetary settlement, the town also agreed to implement changes Khalif and Awash hope will make the community more inclusive. This includes the establishment of a community advisory board, AB7 reported. Candidates interested in joining the Tiburon police department will be vetted with assistance from members of the board. And Khalif and Awash will be members.

As part of the agreement, the Tiburon Police Department will also increase the number of times it conducts racial bias training.

“We are not begging, we are demanding to be treated with love, with dignity and with respect,” Khalif said at a press conference on Tuesday.

“This isn’t about just me and Yema,” added Awash. “It’s about every single Black and Brown person that comes into the Tiburon community, that comes into the Belvedere community.”

Following the incident, Khalif and Awash said they’ve been sent threatening messages, and they recently had to fix security cameras outside their store. But the couple said they’re satisfied with the terms of the settlement and they hope it brings about changes.

“We are doing something that is substantial that will help Tiburon and that will hopefully be an example for the rest of the U.S.” Awash said, adding that they intend to donate some of the settlement money to a charity that focuses on educating orphans in Kenya and Ethiopia.

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