Thursday 29 September 2016

Obama to meet police chiefs and rights activists at White House after shootings

Published 13/07/2016 | 08:46

US President Barack Obama and wife Michelle arrive back at the White House after attending a memorial service for five police officers shot dead in Dallas (AP)
US President Barack Obama and wife Michelle arrive back at the White House after attending a memorial service for five police officers shot dead in Dallas (AP)

US President Barack Obama is to meet police chiefs at the White House following a series of shootings.

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He faces a delicate balancing act of supporting law enforcement while addressing concerns of bias from some of the communities they serve.

Wednesday's meeting is the second such session this week and this time will be expanded to include mayors, academics and civil rights activists.

"We'll share solutions from communities that have already found ways to build trust and reduce disparities," the President said on Facebook.

Mr Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met representatives from eight police organisations on Monday before flying the next day to Dallas to lead a memorial for five police officers killed by a suspect who said he wanted to kill whites, particularly white officers.

The officers were working at a rally where protesters had gathered to voice complaints about the shooting deaths of two black men by police officers, one in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the other in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"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," Mr Obama said

Mr Biden told CNN after Monday's meeting that a couple of the police groups had voiced some displeasure with the President, while others told him he was "doing it just right" with his comments.

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

Mr Biden said the President 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 organisations had voiced concerns for the safety of their members. "It's the first time I've ever heard police organisations say 'My guys are frightened'," he said.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Mr Obama is hoping to push the conversations toward concrete actions that the government and communities can take.

"Even the most optimistic assessment of what could happen tomorrow doesn't leave anybody concluding that all the problems are going to be solved," he said on board Air Force One as it headed to Dallas.

"But the President is hopeful that while the country is focused on this issue, that we can reprioritise and re-energise the search for common ground."

AP

Press Association

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