Nairobi News


Kenyan man awarded Sh18 million in USA racism case

A Kenyan and his Ethiopian wife have been awarded Sh17.3 million as compensation for being harassed by Police in the United States of America.

Mr Yema Khalif and his wife Hawi Awash were awarded the cash by the State of California after they were racially profiled at a shop they operate.

The out-of-court settlement was reached between the couple and the town of Tiburon in Marin County.

The Kenyan grew up in Kibera slums in Nairobi and is a student at the Dominican College while her better half is a student who was once a refugee in Kenya.

They both met in the US and settled as husband and wife. They then opened a boutique in Tiburon city in California.

Yahoo News reports the couple was working late in August 2020 when police officers on patrol stopped by their store and started questioning them.

It is worth noting the boutique is the only black-owned shop within the locality.

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

The officers further said the couple eventually proved they own the premises but the commotion led to a verbal altercation which attracted civilians who started recording the incident.

Weeks later, the video went viral leading the couple to sue the city for a Sh220 million for punitive damages and emotional distress.

As part of the settlement, the couple was included as members of an advisory board in the town which will now be actively involved in the recruiting of police officers.

Ms Awash says the incident was a wake up call to matters racism in California.

“It is not just about Khalif and me. It is about every single black and brown person in the Tiburon and Belvedere community,” she said.

A police sergeant who was pictured in the clip and Tiburon Police Chief Michael Cronin retired due to an uproar over the case.

The officers within the town were also asked to carry business cards that also have information on how to file complaints.

The couple plans to use part of the settlement cash to educate bright orphans.