A Black business owner says he was racially profiled after police in Tiburon, California, were caught on video demanding that he prove he owned his store, even though his photograph was displayed on one of the business’s walls.
According to local news station ABC7, Yema Khalif, the owner of the Yema clothing brand and store, was approached by local police at around 1 a.m. local time on Saturday.
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Last night we had a not so good exchange with Tiburon police at our place of work. YEMA is the only black owned clothing store in Tiburon, California so many people in our community know who we are. Some days we have to work late. Yesterday was one of those days. We received new inventory during the day so we went back to our store, on Main street Tiburon California, to work late. One of our business friend was visiting us from washing DC so he came with us. This is around 1AM. FYI, a popular restaurant close to us was still open and I could see their employees working late. We are inside the store minding our business, All store lights are on and you can see us from outside because we have high windows all around the store. Our store alarm did not go off, no one called the police, everything was peaceful. Then we see Tiburon police car patrolling. We saw him drive around the block like 3 times. At one point he stopped across our store for a good minute. Then finally, the cop decided to come knock on our store door. FYI, we didn’t realize that when he was circling the block he was calling for back up. I opened the door for him then he proceeded to tell me his purpose for knocking on our door was to check what we were doing at the store that late. And he wanted us to prove who we are. His tone not very like-able. I expressed to him that there was no crime going on and we were going about our business. Then he insisted that he wanted us to prove who we are and to explain what we were doing at the store that late. I, kindly, explained that we didn’t have to prove anything and asked for a supervisor. That’s when we knew he had already called for back up. Supervisor and another cop – who had his hand on his gun, by the way, showed up almost immediately. The supervisor came charged and did not come to deescalate anything. The situation started getting out of hand so our friend from DC started recording the exchange (Video below). @shaunking @beyonce @chakabars @lauraharrier @buzzfeed @nowthisnews @aljazeeraenglish @cnn @bbcnews @latimes @nytimes @wsj @ava @shondarhimes @kuz @kingjames @oprah @voguemagazine @essence @adutakech @tiffanyhaddish
In a video filmed by one of Khalif’s friends and shared on Instagram, an unidentified officer is seen asking Khalif to prove that he works at the store.
“This street closes at 9 o’clock at night and there’s never anybody in here. This isn’t regular business hours; there’s no customers in there. Is it your store? That’s all we want to know. I want to know what you’re doing in the store at 1 o’clock in the morning,” the officer can be heard telling Khalif.
“If I tell you it’s my store, then what?” Khalif asks.
“Then show me that it’s your store,” the officer responds.
“I do not have to show you nothing,” Khalif says.
In the video, the officer can also be heard saying: “You should be grateful that we’re being as diligent as we are to look out for the street. That’s all we do.”
The officer eventually leaves the store after a neighbor yells “That’s his store” at him.
In a statement to ABC7, Khalif revealed he, his wife and a friend were at the store late that night because they wanted to put out a “huge inventory” before Saturday morning.
A Tiburon police spokesperson confirmed to ABC7 that the town has hired an independent attorney to conduct an investigation into the incident.
“The Town is engaging the services of an outside, independent attorney to conduct an investigation of the incident involving a local business owner and Tiburon Police Officers on August 21 at 10 Main Street. At the conclusion of the investigation the report will be provided to the Town Manager for review and appropriate action will be taken based on the findings of the investigator,” the spokesperson wrote in a statement to the outlet.