WATCH: Montel Williams Wipes Away Tears as He Defends NFL Players Kneeling in National Anthem Protests

Montel Williams is standing up for the NFL players’ protest of racial injustice in the wake of the backlash from President Donald Trump.

The former TV host, who served 22 years in the Marine Corps and Navy, gave an emotional interview when discussing the athletes kneeling in protest during the anthem.

“We’re all acting like we’re upset because someone seems to have offended you patriotically,” Williams said on Tuesday’s episode of Great Day Washington, a local morning TV show in the nation’s capital.

“The majority of people I hear opening their mouths ― they didn’t put a uniform on their back … So how dare you disrespect those who have been shot for freedom of speech by telling people to shut up?” shared Williams, who did not specifically name Trump during his sit-down.

NFL players and celebrities, including Stevie WonderDiddy and Uzo Aduba, continue to show their solidarity with athletes like Colin Kaepernick, who made headlines in Aug. 2016 for refusing to stand for the national anthem to protest racial injustice in the United States.

“How dare we not allow people to get down on their knees and pray that this country wakes up?” Williams continued. “I’m sorry, but I see a lot of people opening their big mouths on television. But their family didn’t serve. They didn’t let their children serve.”

WATCH: Sterling K. Brown, Ellen DeGeneres, and More Stars Speak Out Over President Trump’s Controversial NFL Comments

During a rally speech in Alabama on Friday, Trump stated, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say, ‘Get that son of a b—h off the field right now. Out, you’re fired.’ ”

In addition, the president had a series of follow-up tweets. “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect…our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem,” he wrote. “If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”

While numerous NFL stars kneeled and locked arms during the national anthem during a Sunday game in London, stars, such as the casts of Grey’s Anatomy and The X-Files, lent their voices to the movement.


PEOPLE.com

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