Obama says activists who attack police hurt Black Lives Matter cause

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President Obama Comes To The Defense Of Black Lives Matter

MADRID, July 10 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama has warned that attacks on police over racial bias would hurt the anti-racism Black Lives Matter movement, days after a sniper killed five police officers in Dallas in apparent revenge for police shootings of black people.

Obama said although most activists from the Black Lives Matter movement wanted to see better relations between communities and law enforcement, violence and overly broad criticism against police undermined the protest movement.

SEE ALSO: Dallas remains on edge after threats

"I want to say to say to everyone concerned about ... racial bias in the criminal justice system that maintaining a truthful, serious and respectful tone is going to help mobilize American society to bring about real change," Obama said.

"Whenever those of us who are concerned about failures of the criminal justice system attack police, you are doing a disservice to the cause," he told a news conference in Madrid where he is on a one-day visit.

Micah Johnson, a black U.S. military veteran of the Afghan war, opened fire on police officers on Thursday during a protest in Dallas against the fatal shootings of two black men by police in Louisiana and Minnesota the previous day.

RELATED: Protests over Alton Sterling and Philando Castile shootings

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Protests around country over Alton Sterling, Philando Castile shootings
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Protests around country over Alton Sterling, Philando Castile shootings
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 09: Protestors yell at police from a bridge on July 9, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. A protest shut down highway I-94 during a march to commemorate Philando Castile who was killed by police on June 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 09: Police officers launch smoke bombs and tear gas to clear out protestors who shut down highway I-94 on July 9, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Protests and marches have occurred every day since the police killing of Philando Castile on June 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 09: Police officers line up to clear out protestors who shut down highway I-94 on July 9, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Protests and marches have occurred every day since the police killing of Philando Castile on June 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 09: Police officers launch smoke bombs and tear gas to clear out protestors who shut down highway I-94 on July 9, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Protests and marches have occurred every day since the police killing of Philando Castile on June 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
BATON ROUGE, LA -JULY 09: Protesters lock arms and shout at law enforcement in riot gear on July 9, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Alton Sterling was shot by a police officer in front of the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge on July 5th, leading the Department of Justice to open a civil rights investigation. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 09: Protestors shut down highway I-94 on July 9, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Protests and marches have occurred every day since the police killing of Philando Castile on June 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
BATON ROUGE, LA -JULY 09: Baton Rouge police removed protesters that were arrested on July 9, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Alton Sterling was shot by a police officer in front of the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge on July 5th, leading the Department of Justice to open a civil rights investigation. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 09: A protestor is held back by another man on shut down highway I-94 on July 9, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Protests and marches have happened every day since the police killing of Philando Castile on June 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 09: Protestors shut down highway I-94 on July 9, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Protests and marches have occurred every day since the police killing of Philando Castile on June 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Ph22oto by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 09: A protestor raises his fist on shut down highway I-94 on July 9, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Protests and marches have occurred every day since the police killing of Philando Castile on June 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 09: Police line up as protestors shut down highway I-94 on July 9, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Protests and marches have occurred every day since the police killing of Philando Castile on June 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 09: A police officer gives commands as protestors shut down highway I-94 on July 9, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Protests and marches have occurred every day since the police killing of Philando Castile on June 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 09: Protestors raise their hands as police attempt to move them off highway I-94 which they shut down on July 9, 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Protests and marches have occurred every day since the police killing of Philando Castile on June 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
Police arrest activist DeRay McKesson during a protest along Airline Highway, a major road that passes in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters Saturday, July 9, 2016, in Baton Rouge, La. Protesters angry over the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling by two white Baton Rouge police officers rallied Saturday at the convenience store where he was shot, in front of the city's police department and at the state Capitol for another day of demonstrations. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
A man and woman who had an exchange with protesters are arrested Saturday, July 9, 2016, in Baton Rouge, La. People were protesting the shooting death of a black man, Alton Sterling, by two white police officers at a convenience store parking lot last week. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
Protesters block Airline Highway, a major road that passes in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters, Saturday, July 9, 2016, as they protest the shooting death of a black man, Alton Sterling, by two white police officers at a convenience store parking lot last week in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
Police arrest a man for blocking a road in near the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters Saturday, July 9, 2016, as people protest the shooting death of a black man, Alton Sterling, by two white police officers at a convenience store parking lot last week in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
Sherif Deputies ride outside an armored vehicle on Airline Highway, a major road that passes in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters, as they attempt to clear protestors from the road in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, July 9, 2016. Several hundred protesters continued blocking the road into the night causing police to arrest several people. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
Protesters block Airline Highway, a major road that passes in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters, Saturday, July 9, 2016, as they protest the shooting death of a black man, Alton Sterling, by two white police officers at a convenience store parking lot last week in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
Law enforcement form a line across Interstate 94 on Saturday, July 9, 2016, in St. Paul, Minn., in response to protesters who blocked the highway. The protesters were rallying in response to the death of Philando Castile, who was shot and killed by a suburban St. Paul police officer on July 6. (AP Photo/Joe Danborn)
A protester watches as police in riot gear clear the street of protesters in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, July 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
Members of the New Black Panther Party face police in riot gear in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters as police attempt to clear the protesters from the street in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, July 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
A protester yells at police in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters after police arrived in riot gear to clear protesters from the street in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, July 9, 2016. Several protesters were arrested. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
Police arrest a protester in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters after police attempted to clear protesters from the street in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, July 9, 2016. Several protesters were arrested. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
A protester yells at police in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters after police arrived in riot gear to clear protesters from the street in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, July 9, 2016. Several protesters were arrested. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
Members of the New Black Panther Party march in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters in support of justice for Alton Sterling, who was killed by police, in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, July 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
Protesters are allowed to cross back over the street after police cleared the roadway in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, July 9, 2016. Several protesters were arrested. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
Protestors shout slogans during a protest in Times Square in support of the Black lives matter movement in New York on July 09, 2016. The gunman behind a sniper-style attack in Dallas was an Army veteran and loner driven to exact revenge on white officers after the recent deaths of two black men at the hands of police, authorities have said. Micah Johnson, 25, had no criminal history, Dallas police said in a statement. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers stand guard during a protest in Times Square in support of the Black lives matter movement in New York on July 09, 2016. The gunman behind a sniper-style attack in Dallas was an Army veteran and loner driven to exact revenge on white officers after the recent deaths of two black men at the hands of police, authorities have said. Micah Johnson, 25, had no criminal history, Dallas police said in a statement. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers stand guard during a protest in Times Square in support of the Black lives matter movement in New York on July 09, 2016. The gunman behind a sniper-style attack in Dallas was an Army veteran and loner driven to exact revenge on white officers after the recent deaths of two black men at the hands of police, authorities have said. Micah Johnson, 25, had no criminal history, Dallas police said in a statement. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
People shout slogans during a protest in support of the Black lives matter movement in New York on July 09, 2016. The gunman behind a sniper-style attack in Dallas was an Army veteran and loner driven to exact revenge on white officers after the recent deaths of two black men at the hands of police, authorities have said. Micah Johnson, 25, had no criminal history, Dallas police said in a statement. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
A protestor shouts slogans during a protest in support of the Black lives matter movement in New York on July 09, 2016. The gunman behind a sniper-style attack in Dallas was an Army veteran and loner driven to exact revenge on white officers after the recent deaths of two black men at the hands of police, authorities have said. Micah Johnson, 25, had no criminal history, Dallas police said in a statement. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
People gather in Union Square during a protest in support of the Black lives matter movement in New York on July 09, 2016. The gunman behind a sniper-style attack in Dallas was an Army veteran and loner driven to exact revenge on white officers after the recent deaths of two black men at the hands of police, authorities have said. Micah Johnson, 25, had no criminal history, Dallas police said in a statement. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
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Johnson wanted to "kill white people, especially white officers," Dallas Police Chief David Brown said after the attack on Thursday night.

The Black Lives Matter group said on Friday it advocated dignity, not murder, in response to the shooting that also left seven other police officers and two civilians wounded.

Obama said there was legitimate criticism to be made of the criminal justice system and that citizens should continue to protest against it.

"I would hope that police organizations are also respectful of the frustrations that people in these communities feel and not just dismiss these protests as political correctness or politics or attacks on police," he said.

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