DALLAS, Texas - A Dallas police officer is standing up to athletes who are deciding to sit down during the national anthem. His Facebook letter is getting national attention in the debate over free speech and respect for tradition.
Dallas Police Corporal Dan Russell was on the front line in downtown Dallas during the July ambush. Now, he's on Facebook because of athletes like Denver's Brandon Marshall and Olympic gold medalist soccer star Megan Rapinoe taking a knee during "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Both of the athletes were following the lead of 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick who said he's not honoring the national anthem for the voiceless suffering injustice in America.
Patriotism and protest are important to State Rep. Helen Giddings. She says what Kaepernick and others are doing "is to focus us on oppression and the things that still need to be done in this country."
The Dallas Police Department denied FOX 4 access to speak with Russell.
The officer's Facebook letter asked Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson to not "sit down for the star spangled banner on this coming Sunday, the 15th anniversary of September Eleventh… To do so would be a slap in the face to millions of fans… millions of public servants, millions of Americans that were involved and impacted by that terrible day."
The Dallas Cowboys took a stand after the ambush nightmare by walking arm-and-arm with Dallas Police Chief David Brown and the families of the fallen officers.
Attorney Anthony Farmer has successfully tried excessive force cases against Dallas police.
"These players love their country. I don't think the two are mutually exclusive," he said. "You can love your country and not approve of everything going on in your country."
State Senator Royce West wrote an open letter of his own after the ambush on police, hoping to help people understand the widening divide between communities of color and police. He says Russell's opinion is shared by public servants while Kaepernick's opinion is shared by those who feel underserved.
"He is voicing what many people are feeling, much like Muhammad Ali did," the state senator said.
West says the controversy is creating the conversation that may let us "figure out exactly how we get through some of the things that we see happening between law enforcement and our communities."
The African-American Leadership Summit will hold discussions about higher education and its costs, crime, policing police and social justice reform on Saturday at Paul Quinn College.