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Protesters plan 'Week of Outrage'

By Holly Yan and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
updated 7:08 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: "My only crime is being black," one sign says at a New York protest
  • 150 people are arrested for blocking a California freeway
  • LeBron James wears an "I can't breathe" T-shirt during a warm-up in Brooklyn
  • "This isn't something that is going to be solved overnight," President Obama tells BET

Witnessing protests in your city? Share your photos with CNN iReport.

(CNN) -- It's become a nightly ritual. When dusk descends, so do they -- by the hundreds, in cities coast to coast.

And the protests over police brutality after recent deaths of unarmed black men might only intensify. Organizers are calling this week a "Week of Outrage," culminating in large demonstrations planned for Saturday in New York and Washington.

More protests at Grand Central Station
Athletes protest with 'I can't breathe'
Garner's son: Protests make me proud

Eric Garner Jr., the son of the man who died after a New York police officer held him in a chokehold, said he was proud of how protesters are carrying on.

"It made me feel proud because I don't have to share this moment by myself and my family," the son told CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront."

"It's amazing how everybody (is) doing this. My father and I appreciate it."

But already this week, peaceful protests across the country have been marred by bouts of violence and crowds that disrupted thousands by shutting down freeways.

Here's the latest on the unrest across the country:

Protesters 'die in'

At New York City's Grand Central Station, protesters Tuesday night re-enacted the chokehold that killed Eric Garner, laid on the ground and chanted.

Demonstrator Dariel Ali, who's participated in New York protests for days, held a sign that said, "My only crime is being black."

"There's a lot of racial profiling going on within the system," he said as protesters chanted behind him.

It's been encouraging to see the ranks of protesters grow in recent days, he said. What's next?

"We gain numbers," Ali said, "and we take the streets, like we always do."

NBA players speak out

Before the Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers faced off on the basketball court Monday night, several players were already scoring points with protesters outside the arena.

As they warmed up for the game, Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James and Kyrie Irving were among the players wearing T-shirts that said "I can't breathe" -- Eric Garner's last words, which have become a rallying cry for protesters after last week's grand jury decision not to indict an officer in his death.

The crowd erupted in cheers after an organizer told them about the players' T-shirts.

After the game, James explained why he wore the "I can't breathe" shirt.

"It was a message to the family. I'm sorry for their loss," the four-time league MVP said.

"Obviously, we know that our society needs to get better. But like I said before ... violence is not the answer, and retaliation isn't the solution. As a society, we know we need to get better, but it's not going to be done in one day. Rome wasn't built in a day."

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told CNN Tuesday that he supports players who want to voice their opinions.

"I have a tremendous respect for our players and the fact that they want to speak out on an issue, and we support them doing that," he said. "Of course, there are the four corners of the court, and in terms of the game itself it is my job to enforce our rules. Having said that, I recognize that there needs to be some flexibility and I think, to me, that was a spontaneous reaction from our players ... and my sense is that, to respect it."

California interstate shut down

For the second night in a row, protesters spilled onto a Northern California freeway Monday night, this time shutting down Interstate 80 in Berkeley.

Many snaked through the hundreds of cars that were trapped for an hour and a half.

"We are out here because the system has made it obvious that black lives do not matter, and us as a people are not OK with that," a protester in Berkeley told CNN.

"We're here to demand justice, and we're here to demand peace."

The California Highway Patrol arrested 150 people for illegally blocking the freeway, the agency said.

Some protesters also sat on a train track in Berkeley, blocking a train from moving, the San Francisco Bay Guardian reported.

But unlike Sunday night, when some protesters looted businesses and damaged several police cars in the Oakland and Berkeley areas, there were no reports of major destruction in Northern California.

Obama weighs in

After weeks of racial protests across the country, President Barack Obama spoke about the future of race relations in America to a network that reaches a predominantly young African-American audience.

Federal response needed in Garner death?

"What I told the young people who I met with -- we're going to have more conversations over the coming months -- is, 'This isn't something that is going to be solved overnight,' Obama said in an interview with BET. " 'This is something that is deeply rooted in our society. It's deeply rooted in our history.' "

Once criticized for shying away from the topic of race early on in his presidency, Obama has more recently been forced to lead a discussion on the issue.

In his interview, the President said African-American youths need to be both persistent and patient in order to make progress on the issue of racial tensions in America.

"It's important to recognize as painful as these incidents are, we can't equate what is happening now to what happened 50 years ago," he said. "If you talk to your parents, grandparents, uncles, they'll tell you that things are better -- not good, in some cases, but better."

CNN's Dan Simon in Berkeley, California; Nick Valencia, Julian Cummings and Lawrence Crook in New York; Sara Fischer in Washington; and Emily Smith and Tina Burnside in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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