Kenyan Diaspora man & Wife Awarded Ksh17 Million over Racial profile in US

Kenyan Diaspora man & Wife Awarded Ksh17 Million over Racial profile in US
Kenyan Diaspora man & Wife Awarded Ksh17 Million over Racial profile in US: Yema Khalif and Hawi Awash

Officials of an American city in the state of California on Friday, April 25, agreed to pay a youthful Kenyan, a Ksh17.3 million (USD150,000) after he and his wife were racially profiled at their shop.

Yema hails from Kibera slums in Nairobi but moved to the United States to further his studies at the Dominican College in the US. It was here that he met Hawi Awash, an Ethiopian student who had been a refugee in Kenya and one who later became his wife. The couple operates a clothes boutique in Tiburon city, California.

In August 2020, the couple was working late in their boutique – the only black-owned shop in the area at the time. Police officers, who were on patrol, stopped by their store and began confronting them.

The cops demanded that Yema and Hawi prove ownership of the store despite them assuring them that they were not trespassing and were only setting up a new inventory. However, the cops did not buy their story.

“The Tiburon officers demanded that Khalif put his key in the door or show identification to prove that he was the owner. They kept on pressuring the couple until a white neighbour confirmed he owned the store,” read the statement in part.

A verbal altercation that ensued between the Kenyan immigrant and his wife caused a commotion with members of the public filming the incident.

After the video went viral, the two sued the city for Ksh220 million (USD2 million) for emotional distress, potential loss of business and punitive damages. Apart from the amount the court ruled upon, it also recommended a review of the police force.

The immigrant couple will also be members of an advisory board tasked with vetting recruits for the police department. The law enforcement agency was asked to reinforce its training on racial bias.

“It is not just about Khalif and me. It is about every single black and brown person in the Tiburon and Belvedere community,”  Yema’s wife told the press outside the court.

The police sergeant pictured on the clip and Tiburon Police Chief Michael Cronin retired amid the uproar over the incident. Tiburon Police officers must now carry business cards that include information on how to file a complaint.

Khalif and Awash noted that they would use part of the money to offer educational scholarships to orphans back in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Through their boutique, the couple also sponsors slum children in Kenya and Ethiopia where they both trace their origins.

“20 per cent of everything you purchase on our website directly goes to orphaned kids in Ethiopia and Kibera slums in Kenya,” a statement on their store’s website indicates.


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Kenyan Diaspora man & Wife Awarded Ksh17 Million over Racial profile in US

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