Barack Obama in White House meeting with police and activists

Barack Obama in White House meeting with police and activists

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US president Barack Obama has met elected officials, law enforcement leaders and members of the Black Lives Matter movement with the goal of getting them to work together to curb violence and build trust.

Mr Obama has devoted much of the week to the issue of violence by and against police, days after a black Army veteran killed five officers in Dallas, Texas, in revenge for the police shooting of black men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and the Minneapolis suburbs.

On Tuesday the president attended a memorial service for the five Dallas officers and called the families of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota to offer condolences.

On Monday, Mr Obama and vice president Joe Biden met police officers at the White House and Wednesday’s session, which lasted more than two hours, was expanded to include mayors, academics and civil rights activists, including some from the Black Lives Matter movement, which has focused on police shootings of African-Americans.

“We’ll share solutions from communities that have already found ways to build trust and reduce disparities,” Mr Obama said on Facebook.

“Going forward, I want to hear ideas from even more Americans about how we can address these challenges together as one nation. That means you.”

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said there would be law enforcement officers in the room who were deeply troubled by Black Lives Matter activists. But he reiterated that Mr Obama has cautioned against judging any one group by the actions of some members.

“Resisting that impulse and keeping open our hearts will be necessary to make some progress on this challenge,” Mr Earnest said.

Those attending the meeting included Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards and mayor of St Paul, Minnesota, Chris Coleman , the two locations where police shootings sparked protests around the country.

Also on the list were Mica Grimm, with Black Lives Matter Minnesota, and DeRay Mckesson, who was arrested on Saturday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on a charge of obstructing a highway.

Police said Mr Mckesson “intentionally” placed himself in the road after protesters were repeatedly warned to remain on private property or the kerb. Mr Mckesson was released from jail on Sunday. The Rev Al Sharpton also attended.

Mr Biden told CNN after Monday’s meeting that a couple of the police groups criticised the president while others told him he was “doing it just right” with his comments.

He did not offer detail about the complaints, but said Mr Obama stressed how he had repeatedly voiced support for law enforcement and offered to send critics a list of when he had done so.

Mr Biden said Mr Obama asked the police officials at the meeting: “Fellas, what do you think I’m not doing? What have you not heard me say?”

Mr Biden also said some of the police groups voiced concerns for the safety of their members.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever heard police organisations say, ‘My guys are frightened’,” Mr Biden said.

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