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Meadowbrook students organize “Hands Up” demonstration inside Chesterfield high school

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Posted at 12:26 PM, Dec 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-10 15:54:41-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- A group of Meadowbrook High School students organized a "Hands Up" demonstration Wednesday inside the Chesterfield high school. The peaceful demonstration took place between classes around second period.

The school resource officer was present, but simply observed the student action, according to a Chesterfield Police spokesperson.

"While classes were changing, some students peacefully gathered to express their views on current events.  School operations quickly returned to normal," Chesterfield County Schools spokesman Shawn Smith said when asked about the demonstration.

The demonstration lasted about 15 minutes, according to students.

Meadowbrook hands up 02

The student-organized demonstration fell during the "Week of Outrage."

This week demonstrations around the country have been organized to to protest grand jury decisions not to bring charges against police officers involved in the deaths of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York.

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."

The past week, some peaceful protests -- of those occurring all across the country -- have been marred by clashes with police, looting, and crowds that disrupted thousands by shutting down freeways. In proportion with the amount of people showing up to demonstrate, the incidents have remained low, overall.

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

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.

NBA players join in

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."

New Yorkers protest near Prince William and Kate

Outside the Barclays Center, a large crowd of demonstrators swarmed the streets, chanting "hands up, don't shoot" and "black lives matter."

Activists had been threatening to disrupt the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who are on their first trip to New York and attended the Nets-Cavaliers game Monday night

"They need to know this is what America is. ... America is a system where those who benefit from others neglect to see the underclass, the people who are underprivileged, and that's why we're out here," said Jibri Nuriddin, a protester from New York.

"We're going to keep chanting and keep marching," he said. "Everyone's going to know that this is an issue. We're not going to let this issue die."

Demonstrations sprout up elsewhere

In Washington, demonstrators protesting police violence lay down in a street several blocks from the White House on Monday, blocking rush hour traffic.

Protesters chanted, "black lives matter" and "off the sidewalks, into the streets."

One woman held a sign that said, "Stop killing us."

The demonstration blocked traffic at cross streets along Connecticut Avenue, a major thoroughfare that connects the White House to upper northwest Washington.

Collette Flanagan of Dallas told protesters that her unarmed son was killed by police.

"Our babies should be here in the prime of their lives," she said.

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.

"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."

The CNN Wire contributed to this report.