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Barack Obama urges 'greater respect' for police, and by police

Published 10/07/2016

A man attempts to stop protesters from engaging with police in riot gear in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters (AP)
A man attempts to stop protesters from engaging with police in riot gear in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters (AP)

President Barack Obama has called for greater tolerance, respect and understanding from police officers towards the people they take an oath to protect, as well as from individuals who think officers are too heavy handed and intolerant.

Speaking during a visit to Spain, which has been cut short due to the shootings of two black men by police in Louisiana and Minnesota and the killing of five police officers by a sniper in Dallas, Mr Obama said: "I'd like all sides to listen to each other."

He said violence against police by anyone concerned about fairness in the criminal justice system does "a disservice to the cause".

He repeated that the vast majority of US police officers are doing a good job, and rhetoric that portrays them otherwise does little to rally allies to support efforts to change a system broadly recognised as biased against minorities.

"Maintaining a truthful and serious and respectful tone is going to help mobilise American society to bring about real change," Mr Obama said.

The president also called for balance from law enforcement. "I would hope that police organisations are also respectful of the frustrations that people in these communities feel and not just dismiss these protests and these complaints as political correctness," he said.

"It is in the interest of police officers that their communities trust them," he added.

The president travelled to Spain after attending a Nato summit in Poland, but the shocking series of events at home late last week has dominated most of his public appearances.

Mr Obama was supposed to spend two days in Spain but cut the visit short because of the shootings.

"We've had a difficult week in the United States," he told King Felipe VI before they met in private at the Royal Palace.

Meanwhile, there were reports of scuffles at several locations in the US in the wake of the shootings.

Police have arrested about 100 people in St Paul, Minnesota, during protests against the shootings of the black men.

Authorities said 21 St Paul officers and six state troopers were hurt during the fracas late on Saturday and early on Sunday.

Police chief Todd Axtell said officers were pelted with rocks, bottles and other objects.

The protest was among several demonstrations nationwide following the deaths of 32-year-old Philando Castile in suburban St Paul and 37-year-old Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

In connection with the killing of the officers in Dallas, it has emerged that gunman Micah Johnson had practised military-style drills and trained at a private self-defence school that teaches special tactics, including "shooting on the move".

Johnson, an Army veteran, received instruction at the Academy of Combative Warrior Arts in the Dallas suburb of Richardson about two years ago, said the school's founder and chief instructor Justin Everman.

AP

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