Couple Reaches Six-Figure Settlement After Police Demands Proof Of Owning Their Clothing Store
Photo Credit: Clark Street Mercantile
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Couple Reaches Six-Figure Settlement After Police Demands Proof Of Owning Their Clothing Store

Almost two years after a racial prejudice incident occurred, a Bay Area couple reached a $150,000 settlement.

According to local news ABC 7, the couple was working late at their clothing store, Yema. During the closing hours, Tiburon police approached the couple at the store, demanding that they prove they owned Yema. Beginning to become heated, a white neighbor even stepped in to help defuse the situation by confirming the store belonged to the couple.

The Age Of Social Media And Social Justice

As with my other injustices during the age of social media, official footage from body cams was caught on camera. The footage went viral, and consequently, the Tiburon police chief and another officer resigned.

Now nearly two years later, Yema Khalif and his wife Hawi Awash agreed to a six-figure settlement with the town of Tiburon, promising to make “significant changes.”

“We are not begging; we are demanding to be treated with love, with dignity, and with respect,” Khalif said during a press conference in Tiburon.

Immediate Change

An additional part of the settlement included Tiburon officials creating a community advisory board to curate a more inclusive environment for its residents. Members of the advisory board will have the opportunity to vet candidates that apply to be police officers. Plus, Khalif and Awash will be members of the newly established board, ABC 7 reports.

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

Continued Support And Next Steps

During the town press conference, the entrepreneurial couple was joined by Paul Austin, an activist who notes that what happened to Khalil and Awash is not anything new.

“Marin County, there’s so much more work we can do to make this place a true melting pot,” Austin said.

While the incident ended that night, their experience carried on for a while. Furthermore, the Yema owners said they received threats after the incident, and people began to question their business practices –like using Black mannequins.

In addition, they installed security cameras around their store as a means of added protection. And still, Khalil and Awash are optimistic that things will change despite all that has happened.

“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.