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Obama Urges Black Lives Matter Protesters to Have ‘Respectful, Thoughtful Tone’

President Barack Obama called on supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement to have a “respectful” and “thoughtful tone” on Sunday.

“I would just say that everybody who’s concerned about the issue of police shootings or racial bias in the criminal justice system, that maintaining a truthful and serious and respectful tone is going to help mobilize American society to bring about real change. And that is our ultimate objective,” Obama said Sunday to reporters after meeting with acting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in Madrid.

“Whenever those of us who are concerned about fairness in the criminal justice system attack police officers, you are doing a disservice to the cause,” the president said, adding that any violence toward police officers is a “reprehensible crime” that must be prosecuted.

The Hill reports:

In St. Paul Saturday night, 21 officers were injured from protesters reportedly throwing rocks, bottles, fireworks and bricks. About 100 people were arrested.

Obama’s comments follow days of protests throughout the U.S. over the deaths of two black men in Minnesota and Louisiana in police-involved shootings, and the attack that left five officers dead in Dallas Thursday night.

He also cautioned against stereotyping all police officers while “the vast majority are doing a really good job” and trying to protect people fairly “without racial balance.”

“If the rhetoric does not recognize that, then we’re going to lose allies in the reform cause,” Obama said.

He said he hoped “that police organizations are also respectful of the frustrations that the people in these communities feel. And not just dismiss these protests and these complaints as political correctness or as politics or attacks on police. There are legitimate issues that have been raised. And there is data and evidence to back up the concerns that are being expressed.”

“If police organizations and departments acknowledge that there’s a problem and that there’s an issue, then that too is going to contribute to real solutions.”

“It is in the interests of police officers that their communities trust them and that the kind of rancor and suspicion that exists right now is alleviated. I’d like all sides to listen to each other, and that’s we’ll hopefully be able to accomplish over the course of the next week and the course of the remaining months that I am president.”

Photo credit: WhiteHouse.gov.

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