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Black Lives Matter activists shut down Emeryville Home Depot for 5 hours, demand answers in police murder of Yuvette Henderson

February 23, 2015

by Chinyere Tutashinda

The group that shut down BART on Black Friday in November and shut down Oakland police headquarters in December – making Black Lives Matter a household phrase around the world – struck again on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, Saturday, Feb. 21, shutting down Home Depot in Emeryville for five hours, the length of time Yuvette Henderson’s body lay in the street after she was gunned down by Emeryville police. – Photo: Cece Carpio

The group that shut down BART on Black Friday in November and shut down Oakland police headquarters in December – making Black Lives Matter a household phrase around the world – struck again on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, Saturday, Feb. 21, shutting down Home Depot in Emeryville for five hours, the length of time Yuvette Henderson’s body lay in the street after she was gunned down by Emeryville police. – Photo: Cece Carpio

Emeryville – Activists locked down several entrances to the Emeryville Home Depot to demand answers about the murder of Yuvette Henderson, a 38-year-old Black mother of two children who was shot and killed by the Emeryville Police Department on Feb. 3, 2015, allegedly accused by the store of shoplifting.

Approximately 17 activists from Black Lives Matter, Anti-Police Terrorist Project, Asians4BlackLives and Xicana Moratorium Project chained themselves to multiple store doors, blocking access, as supporters rallied outside. Protesters successfully shut down the store for five hours, the amount of time Yuvette Henderson lay in the street after being shot by police.

“We are here because on Feb. 3, the Emeryville Police Department murdered Yuvette Henderson,” said Carrie Leilam Love, Black liberation activist. “We want the video tapes released so we can find out the truth. We want the officers suspended without pay and we want complete demilitarization of Emeryville Police Department.”

Asians4BlackLives shut down the main entrance to Home Depot in Emeryville for five hours. – Photo: Bay Solidarity

Asians4BlackLives shut down the main entrance to Home Depot in Emeryville for five hours. – Photo: Bay Solidarity

The protesters brought in a two-story-tall watch tower and an altar and taped off the area around the Home Depot main entrance with mock yellow police tape that read “Justice for Yuvette Henderson, Crime Scene.” – Photo: Alyssa

The protesters brought in a two-story-tall watch tower and an altar and taped off the area around the Home Depot main entrance with mock yellow police tape that read “Justice for Yuvette Henderson, Crime Scene.” – Photo: Alyssa

“We are here because on Feb. 3, the Emeryville Police Department murdered Yuvette Henderson,” said Carrie Leilam Love, Black liberation activist.

Judging from her Facebook page, Yuvette Henderson was very religious, lamented that she usually had to work Sundays and miss church, had a loving husband who gave her a car on Mother’s Day 2012, and wrote in November 2011, “I thank God for all the blessings he has been giving my family. I got my house I wanted.” This is not the profile of a shoplifter. She also wrote, ominously, “Thank God for ur life every day because tomorrow is not promised.”

Judging from her Facebook page, Yuvette Henderson was very religious, lamented that she usually had to work Sundays and miss church, had a loving husband who gave her a car on Mother’s Day 2012, and wrote in November 2011, “I thank God for all the blessings he has been giving my family. I got my house I wanted.” This is not the profile of a shoplifter. She also wrote, ominously, “Thank God for ur life every day because tomorrow is not promised.”

Eyewitness accounts of Yuvette Henderson’s shooting contradict the statements released by Emeryville police and Home Depot. There has been no clear account of why Home Depot called the police and escalated the situation, especially since Yuvette sustained a head injury in the store and an ambulance was called.

Instead of treating her, police arrived, chased down Yuvette and killed her. Eyewitnesses also saw Yuvette with both hands in the air, waving down a bus. They did not report seeing her with a gun.

Most disturbingly, Yuvette Henderson was shot with three different weapons, one of which was an AR 15 semi-automatic rifle, a military-grade weapon used in war.

At the end of five hours, white allies unlocked themselves from an entrance to Home Depot. – Photo: Dave Id, Indybay

At the end of five hours, white allies unlocked themselves from an entrance to Home Depot. – Photo: Dave Id, Indybay

“We want the video tapes released so we can find out the truth. We want the officers suspended without pay and we want complete demilitarization of Emeryville Police Department.”

Yuvette Henderson’s brother, Cyde Wayze, center, is comforted by comrades who also lost loved ones to police murder, Cadine Williams, sister of O’Shaine Williams, and Mesha Irizarry, mother of Idriss Stelley. Both O’Shaine and Idriss were murdered by San Francisco police, O’Shaine last year and Idriss in 2001. Cadine prays for strength in the face of unspeakable grief. – Photo: Nancy Mancias

Yuvette Henderson’s brother, Cyde Wayze, center, is comforted by comrades who also lost loved ones to police murder, Cadine Williams, sister of O’Shaine Evans, and Mesha Irizarry, mother of Idriss Stelley. Both O’Shaine and Idriss were murdered by San Francisco police, O’Shaine last year and Idriss in 2001. Cadine prays for strength in the face of unspeakable grief. – Photo: Nancy Mancias

“This is not just about Yuvette Henderson, Mike Brown, Oscar Grant or Eric Garner,” Kharyshi Wiginton with Black Lives Matter said. “Their murders are part of a larger national and global war on Black people. These are not just individual acts; it’s systematic genocide. Today is crucial because the lives of Black women victims of state sanctioned violence go unspoken.”

Protesters are demanding the release of the Home Depot security tapes from the day of the killing. They are also calling to end the use of military style weapons by police and to stop paid leave for officer-involved killings.

A march from the Emeryville Police Department of approximately 150 supporters marched to Home Depot to support the shutdown.

Yuvette’s death was a result of racial profiling. Just two weeks earlier, a white man by the name of Sebastian Ledwick was arrested after shooting at Emeryville police. The police did not fire at him but took him into custody. This was a half a block away from where Yuvette took her last breath.

Yuvette’s murder reinforces the pattern of violence that Black women and young people face at the hands of police. Aiyana Jones, Tarika Wilson, Yvette Smith, Rekia Boyd are just some of the other Black women and young people who have been murdered by police across the country.

Chinyere Tutashinda can be reached at chinyeretutashinda@gmail.com. Bay View staff contributed to this story.

Fists in the air, protesters celebrated the five-hour shutdown of Home Depot in Emeryville. – Photo: Forrest Schmidt

Fists in the air, protesters celebrated the five-hour shutdown of Home Depot in Emeryville. – Photo: Forrest Schmidt

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