Militant Journalism

Bay Area cops take another Black life

Vigil for Yvette Henderson, killed by Emeryville, Calif., police, Feb. 3, 2015 Photo: Forrest Schmidt

On Feb. 3, 38-year-old Yvette Henderson joined the list of victims of racist police murder in the Bay Area. Yvette, a mother of two, was in a Home Depot located on the Emeryville side of the city line with Oakland. A store security person accused her of trying to steal. Henderson left the store and the security team called the Emeryville police, claiming that Henderson had been confrontational when she was accosted and that they believed she had a gun on her.

By the time two Emeryville cops found Henderson, she was on the Oakland side of the city line, and was trying to wave down a city bus. The bus did not stop for Henderson and the police cornered her in front of a parked vehicle and shot at least seven times, killing her.

The owner of the car Henderson was standing in front of, Russ Whitehead, was in the vehicle at the time of the shooting and nearly lost his own life as bullets shattered his window. He survived only because he instinctively ducked when he heard gunfire. Not only did the cops kill Henderson, but they put Whitehead’s life at risk to do so.

The Emeryville PD claim that Henderson pulled a gun on the cops, but at least one witness of Henderson’s death said they saw no weapon in her hand. The police claimed to find a gun in the vicinity of the shooting after sweeping the area, but offer no evidence that it had been in Henderson’s possession. Conveniently for them, the cops had their body cameras turned off until after Henderson’s death.

That night at 7:30 p.m., around 100 people met for a vigil for Henderson. After the service, protesters marched to the Home Depot whose security team had called the cops on Henderson. Store management locked the doors to keep out Henderson’s supporters, who chanted, “Yvette Henderson did not have to die! Jail the killer cops!”

The protesters then marched to a Safeway, the nearest big business where shoppers would be able to hear their version of Henderson’s story. Both shoppers and grocery workers seemed sympathetic. One grocery employee told the protesters that she had known Yvette and was horrified by her death.

The protesters then marched to the corner where Yvette’s life ended. It was clear from the different sizes of the bullet holes that multiple weapons, including an M-16 assault rifle, had been fired at Henderson. The police had wiped down the area to minimize any evidence of the killing, but drops of Henderson’s blood were still visible on the sidewalk.



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