A crowd of roughly 100 to 150 people shut down a Home Depot store in Emeryville Saturday, forcing it to close early, according to police, activists and a company spokesman.
The demonstrators were protesting the death of Yuvette Henderson, 38, of Oakland, who was shot and killed by police on Feb. 3.
Officers had responded to Home Depot, located at 3838 Hollis Ave. in Emeryville, on a report of a woman shoplifting knives and other items, according to Oakland police. Henderson reportedly ran away from the officers, who chased her and then shot and killed her outside of a storage facility, located at 3406 Hollis St. in Oakland, police said.
Saturday’s protest started around 10 a.m. at the Emeryville Police Department, located at 2449 Powell St., where about 100 people gathered, said community organizer Pete Woiwode. Emeryville police Sgt. Fred Dauer said the department closed its front counter, which is typically open to the public to file police reports, and barricaded the front entrance for the duration of the demonstration, though officers were still responding to calls for service during that time.
Officers from the Oakland and Berkeley police departments assisted Emeryville police in monitoring the demonstration, which marched from the police station to Home Depot around 10:45 a.m., Dauer said. There were also California Highway Patrol officers monitoring the freeway entrances, he said.
At the Home Depot store, more than a dozen people chained themselves to multiple entrances while supporters rallied outside, Woiwode said. Dauer said the demonstrators were allowing people to leave the stores but nobody was entering.
The demonstrators said they were “demanding answers” in Henderson’s shooting and said statements from Emeryville police and the store conflict with those of witnesses.
Carrie Leilam Love, a self-described black liberation activist, said in a statement:
“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 [sic] Emeryville Police Department.”
Woiwode said the group is demanding the release of video footage from surveillance systems at Home Depot and other nearby stores, for police to stop using military-style weapons and to not place officers on paid administrative leave following officer-involved shootings.
Stephen Holmes, a spokesman for Home Depot, said the store closed sometime in the middle of the day today but is expected to reopen for its regular business hours on Sunday. He said the store’s policy is to only release video surveillance footage to law enforcement agencies:
“We don’t want to inadvertently interfere with their investigation, … So, while we understand the community’s concern when such a serious incident occurs, it wouldn’t be appropriate to release that footage during an ongoing investigation.”
Kharyshi Wiginton, an activist with the group, Black Lives Matter, said the demonstration is about more than Henderson’s death, or the victims of other high-profile police shootings:
“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.”
Dauer said there were no arrests related to the demonstration:
“It was basically a very peaceful group.”
The demonstrators cleared out of the area just before 5 p.m., Dauer said. Woiwode said the group had planned to stay outside the store for five hours to represent the five hours that Henderson was left on the ground after the shooting.
Among the groups participating in the protest today were members of Black Lives Matter, Asians4BlackLives, the Anti-Police Terrorist Project and the Xicana Moratorium Project.