Social Media Influencer Files Restraining Order against Internet Researcher

By Alexander Ramirez

SACRAMENTO, CA – Sacramento County Superior Court YouTube court live streams may get a dozen viewers for cases—but Dept. 12 last week drew about 350 people who tuned in to see Zayn Silmi attempt to obtain a permanent restraining order for Andrea Cunningham, who Silmi claims is “frightening.”

Zayn Silmi, whose actual name is Hussein Myles Silmi, is a social media influencer with a fairly large Instagram following, who has recently come into heat regarding his charity work after being investigated by Cunningham, an internet researcher.

From what can be gleaned from the court session, Cunningham has been investigating the validity of Silmi’s “The People of Sacramento” 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in relation to another business venture of Silmi’s, the “R Street Shelter.”

The afternoon court session started with a continuation request by Silmi’s attorney, Ramseyfaiz Abboushi, regarding an incident between Cunningham and Silmi that happened just that morning.

On his Instagram, Silmi posted a story that included his location at the time of the incident, and about 10 minutes later, Cunningham arrived at the same location.

Silmi said he was scared as soon as he saw her and as she blocked the intersection of the coffee shop he was leaving while recording and laughing at him, but there was no audio provided for the court.

“Obviously, it’s very frightening. This is something that I believe that she does often. Just today that she was caught and I was able to report it,” Silmi said.

On a separate incident that occurred in June 2020, Silmi said he was once again frightened by a confrontation in which Silmi alleges Cunningham was shouting and yelling at him in public.

“Obviously, I was very frightened for my life. I don’t know what she’s capable of. She just came, and the first thing she did was throw a cigarette towards me,” Silmi alleged.

This was followed by Silmi affirming that he has been afflicted by severe anxiety and depression because of the alleged harassment, even when his business relies on him being a social and happy person.

So much to the point that Silmi said it’s “hard to find joy and happiness” in anything that he does, and he has nightmares about coming to court and Cunningham’s alleged harassment.

Because of the so-called harassment, Silmi began seeing a therapist a few months ago but has not been put on any medication for anxiety or depression.

Attorney Abboushi would move on to question whether or not Silmi has ever received any loans from the city of Sacramento, he denied this even though multiple loans were approved.

And the $10,000 that Cunningham accused Silmi of stealing was part of a contract of marketing services with another entity.

In fact, Silmi denies any allegations from Cunningham that he is a tax evader or a thief, and uses his charity work as examples for him to “give back to his city.”

“I believe animals could’ve been saved if it wasn’t for Ms. Cunningham. I believe kids in the local schools would have more resources. I believe artists would have more resources, ’cause that’s all things that we couldn’t do in the past year,” said Silmi.

It was at this time that Cunningham’s lawyer, Erin Dervin, began her questioning of Silmi.

When asked to identify specific examples that illustrate Cunningham messaging him or his staff, Silmi couldn’t but did affirm that she has been leaving messages on his posts and social media platforms which are included as exhibits in the court.

He alleges that Cunningham threatened him with death, violence, and obscenities with her direct messaging in June 2020 and in-person interactions with him, but when asked to identify where these threats were, Dervin was shut down by the judge for asking the same question repeatedly, even if she didn’t believe Silmi answered her.

As Dervin continued to ask about the set of messages that occurred on June 2020, the judge once again asked her to move on,” noting “Can we please move on? I’ve heard enough about the June 2020 incident.”

“Your Honor, I can’t move on because there have been multiple false statements that Mr. Silmi has made about that event, so I cannot move on from that,” Cunningham’s attorney said.

“Okay, first of all, you will move on if I ask you to move on. Second, tell me what it is you’re saying is false, so we can be direct and not spend a lot of time going over the same questions and answers,” said the judge.

The June 2020 incident involved Silmi talking to a client of his before it is alleged that Cunningham pulled up in her car and tossed a cigarette in his direction. Silmi also alleges Cunningham almost hit him with her car as she drove up, but this was not brought up when his lawyer, Abboushi, previously questioned him on the matter.

After Dervin showed a public report that Silmi made on the June 2020 incident, the live stream abruptly ended and came back shortly after.

Dervin then began the session by questioning Silmi on the R Street Shelter website.

When questioned as to whether or not one of the people listed on the website was Silmi’s partner on opening the shelter, he denied, and said, “We were not opening a shelter.”

Also, although the website for R Street Shelter was launched, there was no actual establishment at the time other than a flagship location for a foster program, which was again clarified as not a shelter, despite what the website said.

There was even a press release issued by either Silmi or someone from his team that listed the establishment as R Street Animal, and the only reason the word “shelter” was included in the website domain was that that was the only domain available.

The judge asked to move on from this point.

Dervin brought to the attention of the court an article in Sacramento Magazine that included Silmi and a business partner under the establishment name, R Street Shelter. Silmi explained that this was a typo made by the magazine because of the typo on the website.

“We were never housing animals or creating a shelter. It was a foster program,” Silmi said.

Dervin was once again asked to move on.

Dervin moved on to the donation link that was included on the R Street Shelter website. On the website, a 501(c)(3) number was listed to describe the R Street business, but the number was the same for Silmi’s last non-profit business, The People of Sacramento.

However, the R Street Shelter non-profit never took any money from anybody and was listed as a non-profit organization by California, Silmi claimed. This non-profit also ceased operations shortly after starting because of Cunningham, Silmi also claimed.

Dervin was asked to move on.

Note: a 501(c)(3) is a classification for businesses as to whether or not they are considered charitable, and must be confirmed by the IRS. These establishments are exempt from federal income tax.

Earlier in the case, Silmi said Cunningham had contacted his employees to harass them, but an exhibit brought to the attention of the court by Dervin said differently. The exhibit displayed a set of messages in which Silmi’s employee can be seen messaging Cunningham first and threatening Cunningham.

Dervin was, again, asked to move on.

The judge wanted to keep the court focused on the restraining order and not on defamation cases.

Silmi previously asserted that he was disturbed by Cunningham accusing him of stealing money and buying expensive items, so attorney Dervin moved on to talk about Silmi’s social media displaying him buying a jet ski, $5,000 suit, multiple Nike shoes, a partnership with Ford, and an arcade machine.

Dervin said the basis for her bringing this up in court was that Silmi made all of this information public on his social media like TikTok, and Cunningham didn’t have to be “obsessed with Silmi” to get this information.

Shortly after, Dervin moved on to R Street Shelter’s adopting out of multiple dogs, but Silmi clarified that they only took in enough money for each dog’s shots. When bringing up the fees for adoption by the establishment, attorney Abboushi objected on the grounds that Dervin was trying to waste the court’s time so as to continue this matter on another day.

The judge agreed that they should move on completely from the topic of R Street Shelter.

Again, the judge questioned the relevance of another exhibit brought to the attention of the court by Dervin that showed a billboard of a fundraiser that Silmi was a part of that raised $15,000, but it is unknown where that money went.

Silmi explained that he was not responsible for the fundraiser and his non-profit was not part of the fundraiser, that he only volunteered his time. Silmi also stated that Dervin has no proof that he has touched any of that money.

The court session concluded with the scheduling of a continuance on the matter set for July 13 at 9 a.m.

About The Author

Alexander Ramirez is a third-year Political Science major at the University of California, Davis. He hopes to hone his writing skills in preparation for the inevitable time of graduation.

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