Yema Khalif, a business owner in Tiburon, California, was racially profiled by a White police officer when he was in his own store at 1 am.
A video going viral on the internet displays a White police officer in Tiburon, California, interrogating a Black business owner for simply being inside his own store at 1 am. Yema Khalif, the store owner, is now speaking up about how the police officer asked him for evidence to prove that he was, in fact, the owner. For Khalif, it is not unusual to work at his store late into the night. While he is no stranger to racism, this was the first time such an incident took place at his place of business. At the time, he was in his store with two other people, including his friend who recorded the video, ABC News reports.
"He demands to know what we are doing at the store at 1 o'clock in the morning and he wants me to prove who I am," Khalif said in an interview with the news outlet. "This particular day we had just received a huge inventory and we just wanted to come out and put the inventory out before Saturday morning."
The Black entrepreneur and his wife began their business together when they were in college. According to him, they are trying to "build a brand with a big heart." Proceeds from all their clothing sales are donated in order to help send orphans to school. Pictures of both him and his wife can even be found on the walls of the store—a key piece of "proof" that the White police officer with several years of investigative training evidently missed.
In the video, the supervisor can be heard stating, "This street closes at 9 o'clock at night and there's never anybody in here. This isn't regular business hours, there [are] 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."
When Khalif asks what happens when he tells the officer it's his store, the officer demands proof. The officer also says, "You should be grateful that we're being as diligent as we are to look out for the street, that's all we do." However, the incident did not help the business owner feel safe or looked after. Indeed, Khalif affirmed, it made him feel racially profiled.
An investigation into the incident is currently ongoing. An emailed statement reads, "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." Meanwhile, Khalif asked, "How can we do better as a community? How can policing be done better? How can policing be done with empathy?"