President Barack Obama on Sunday condemned violence against police officers, noting that it did a “disservice to the cause” that Black Lives Matter is fighting for.
During a press conference in Spain, the president was asked how he would advise Black Lives Matter protesters to react to the ambush on police officers in Dallas.
Obama explained that protesters had a right to “speak truth to power.”
“And that is sometimes messy and controversial,” he noted. “But because of that ability to protest and engage in free speech, America overtime has gotten better.”
But the president warned that “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.”
In addition to calling violence against police a “reprehensible crime,” Obama also cautioned Black Lives Matter against extreme rhetoric.
“If we paint police in broad brush, without recognizing the vast majority of police officers are doing a really good job and are trying to protect people and do so fairly and without racial bias, if our rhetoric doesn’t not recognize that then we’re going to lose allies in the reform cause,” he explained. “In a movement like Black Lives Matter, there are always going to be people who say things that are stupid or are imprudent or are overgeneralized or are harsh.”
“And I don’t think that you can hold well-meaning activists who are doing the right thing and peacefully protesting responsible for everything that is uttered at a protest,” Obama said. “But I think the overwhelming majority of people that are involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, what they really want to see is a better relationship between the police and the community so that they can feel that it’s serving them.”
Watch the video below from MSNBC, broadcast July 10, 2016.