TIBURON, Calif. (KRON) – The African-American owners of Yema, a boutique clothing store in Tiburon, have reached a financial settlement with the town. This stems from a racial profiling incident from back in August 2020 when Tiburon police officers harassed the couple while they were working late at night in their own shop.
“It was definitely a traumatic experience that has affected our lives forever,” co-owner Hawi Awash said. “But I would say the good things that have come from it are real substantial policy changes that will help protect black and brown people.”
An 11-minute interaction with the Tiburon Police Department more than a year and a half ago outside the couple’s store now defines their 11 years in town. That night, they claim police officers racially profiled and harrassed them by not taking their word that they owned the shop they were working in after hours.
“This went on for 11 minutes until a white man came out on the balcony after seeing all the flashing lights, and yelled over, ‘What are you all doing? That’s their store.’ And, then the police scattered,” attorney Charles Bonner said.
Bonner, a civil rights attorney, and his office negotiated a $150,000 settlement agreement with the town. It also includes citywide policy changes.
The town has taken steps to make it easier for members of the public to identify officers they interact with and more ways to report complaints. A citizen advisory panel has also been created, allowing residents and business owners to provide input on the hiring and firing of officers.
“Having a voice and having a seat at the table when decisions are made, I think that’s crucial,” co-owner Yema Khalif said.
In a statement, the town’s mayor says changes resulting from this settlement will help make Tiburon a leader in diversity, inclusion and transparency.