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Black Entrepreneurs in California Forced To Show Proof of Store Ownership to Police Get $150K Settlement

A California town has agreed to pay a Black couple $150,000 and implement reforms to settle claims police officers racially profiled them in their own store in 2020.

Yema Khalif and his wife were setting up new inventory in their clothing store bearing his name in August 2020 when Tiburon Police officers demanded that Khalif put his key in the door or show identification to prove that he was the owner.

Yema Khalif and Hawi Awash have received a $150,000 settlement from a California town after they say police racially profiled them at their store in 2020. (Instagram/Yema)

The officers kept pressuring the couple until a white neighbor confirmed he owned the store.

As part of the settlement, Khalif and his wife Hawi Awash will sit on an advisory board that will vet candidates for the police department, and the agency will bolster racial bias training, among other reforms.

“This isn’t about just me and Yema,” Awash said during a press conference announcing the settlement on Tuesday. “It’s about every single Black and brown person that comes into the Tiburon community, that comes into the Belvedere community.”

Khalif and Awash, the only Black business owners in the Northern California town at the time, were sorting through inventory at the store at 1 a.m. on August 21, 2020, when Tiburon Police Officer Isaac Madfes came to the door and asked them what they were doing.

The couple and a friend said they noticed a Tiburon police cruiser drive by the store at least three times before it parked in front of the store for 20 minutes.

Awash said the officer was “aggressive,” so Khalif asked for a supervisor, who Madfes said was already on his way. The superior, Sgt. Michael Blasi also asked the couple about their presence in the store, which had photos of them on the wall.

Read full story at Atlanta Black Star here.

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