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'I Can't Breathe': Garner Decision Protests Hit Fifth Day

Eric Garner Protests Continue Throughout the Nation 1:47

Protesters angered by police killings of unarmed black men in New York and Missouri rallied nationwide late Sunday in a fifth day of demonstrations, shutting down freeways, holding "die-ins" in the streets, and chanting "I can't breathe" — the last words uttered by Eric Garner.

As many as 500 people were marching in Berkeley, California, on Sunday night, standing in front of buses, blocking traffic and yelling, "Fist up, Fight back." They also chanted "Turn it up, don't turn it down. Shut it down for Michael Brown," the name of the unarmed black teen fatally shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. The California Highway Patrol said protesters were throwing rocks at police. Police deployed tear gas and arrested protesters in nearby Oakland who had attempted to block eastbound lanes on Highway 24, the California Highway Patrol said. The CHP did not say how many people it had arrested.

In Philadelphia, about 200 protesters and clergy staged a "die-in," in which demonstrators lie down on the street, outside the South Philadelphia Sports Complex on Sunday following the Philadelphia Eagles' NFL game against the Seattle Seahawks. They at times yelled, "Hands up! Don't shoot!" as they raised their hands in the air.

Some fans leaving the stadium could be heard jeering at the protesters. Philadelphia native Raheem Manning said such taunts show work remains to be done on educating people about racial inequality. The protests weren't just about the recent cases in which unarmed black men have been killed by white police officers, he said.

"I still have the fear that a cop may bother me for no reason," Manning told NBC Philadelphia. "It's definitely a protest about an underlying issue that's happening across the country."

In Chicago, about 100 churches organized peaceful rallies throughout the day, while in Miami protesters marched onto Interstate 195, shutting down the road in both directions.

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"This is a human family issue not just a black issue," Fr. Michae Pfleger of St. Sabina Church told NBC Chicago. "This is a humanity issue in America."

Garner died after being wrestled to the ground in what has been described as a chokehold. His last words — "I can't breathe" — have been a rallying cry for protests.

Pro athletes joined in with their own form of protest Sunday: Davin Joseph, an offensive lineman for the St. Louis Rams, penned "I can't breathe" on his cleats, and Johnson Bademosi, a defensive back for the Cleveland Browns, wore a shirt with the same message penned on the back. That followed Derrick Rose, a point guard for the Chicago Bulls, who on Saturday night also wore a shirt bearing the words during a pre-game warm-up.

The late night protests in northern California came less than a day after demonstrations there that saw both police and protesters injured and at least six people arrested. Two cops were injured as demonstrators smashed windows and hurled rocks at police overnight Saturday, authorities said. The six arrested brought to at least 300 the number of people arrested across the country during the protests following the decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the choking death of Garner.

-Cassandra Vinograd of NBC News contributed to this report.