Tiburon protesters speak up against racial profiling of black-owned business: Yema

Hannah Morgan and Caroline Scharf

In the cold peninsula air, clusters of protesters flooded the Reed Elementary School parking lot in Tiburon at noon on Aug. 29. The protestors assembled to speak up against the Tiburon police force after the alleged harassment of Yema Khalif, the owner of  black-owned clothing store, Yema, located in downtown Tiburon the previous week. The protestors marched up Tiburon Boulevard to the Tiburon Police Station, where they gathered to listen to a variety of speakers and demanded reform. 

Shaw (right) stands at Reed Elementary alongside Alexa Sokolove, a Tamiscal student.

As reported by the Marin Independent Journal, the initial incident occurred on Aug. 21 at 1 a.m, when Officer Isaac Madfes approached Yema after seeing that the store’s lights were on with three people inside. The officer, accompanied by a supervisor, approached the store and started to question the validity of Khalif’s  ownership. The dispute ended when a white person on Main Street confirmed Khalif was the store owner. Following the event, the all-white Tiburon City Council hosted an online public forum on Aug. 27 where Tiburon residents voiced concerns about the longstanding racism embedded in both the policing system and among residents. According to the Marin IJ, Khalif and his wife, Hawi Awash, stated that Khalif has been racially profiled more than once by the Tiburon Police Department. 

“It’s a really sad feeling to be human… yet always have to prove you are not [a] suspect, not a threat,” Awash said in an excerpt from the Marin IJ.

Redwood junior Kaylen Shaw, was one of the protesters who came to show solidarity with Yema. He hoped to be able to speak up about his frustration with the local government about racial inclusivity. He felt that while some towns may describe themselves as inclusive, some, including Tiburon, may not display those sentiments. 

“It’s not what people advertise Tiburon to be, which is a place for diversity and community,” Shaw said. “I feel like the black community is underrepresented. I wanted to show up [to the protest] like–black people are here and we do matter.”

Shultz holds sign reading “Rethink Public Safety, Black Lives Matter.”

Much of the crowd present also rallied to defund the police, including Naomi Alessandra Shultz, a Fairfax artist and resident who is also a member of “Rethink Police”, a Fairfax group pushing for the reallocation of police funds. 

“Our plan is to really just rethink the way that public safety works in Fairfax and try to get less funds spent on policing fast and more funds spent on taking care of people’s basic needs,” Schultz said. “It’s really important for the whole community–lots of people from all around Marin and further come here and support them [Yema] and support this message.”


Standing in front of the large crowd gathered outside the doors of the station, Khalif delivered the first of many speeches.

Protestors stand outside of Tiburon Police Station after marching from Reed Elementary School.

“I live my life with gratitude. I don’t forget where I came from and I don’t forget who I am … I put a lot of soul into what I do because I do it with love and I do it with passion,” Khalif said. “No one should live their life thinking that they’re going to be stopped without any problem or cause.”

As the crowd dispersed, protestors marched back from the station and into downtown Tiburon to fill the store, leaving a long line trailing outside of its doors. While the speeches might have been finished, people filled the street with conversation– exhibiting the afternoon’s message of community and unity loud and clear. 

“I could have been the next Jacob Blake. I could’ve been the next Trayvon Martin. I could’ve been the next George Floyd… When you see someone innocent being harassed down the street–take a stand, put your foot down, say something,”