A Capitol Police officer who was on the front line against the pro-Trump rioters that stormed the Capitol has revealed that he was subjected to relentless racist abuse while trying to defend the building.
In an interview broadcast Monday on ABC News’ Good Morning America, Harry Dunn recalled being surrounded by rioters, his lungs burning from pepper spray and bear mace, and bursting into tears. When one of his colleagues approached him to ask what was wrong, Dunn said that he felt devastated by the unashamedly racist vitriol of the the Trumpist rioters.
“I got called a [N-word] a couple dozen times today protecting this building,” Dunn recalled telling his colleague through tears. “Is this America? They beat police officers with Blue Lives Matter flags. They fought us, they had Confederate flags in the U.S. Capitol.”
In the six weeks that he’s kept his silence, Officer Dunn has seen some people try to dismiss the riot as being purely motivated by politics. From his experience, that is completely wrong. The officer told ABC News: “Everybody wants to say that it was about politics and everything—but there was a large number of people in that crowd that were racist.”
Dunn’s account of the day is terrifying. He described one particular moment when he was looking over the MAGA hordes and realized that any one of them could have a gun, and that he was an obvious target.
The officer said: “If I can imagine what war is like, I would imagine it was like that. We had our guns out, we had our rifles, our long-guns, and I was on this stage and I’m thinking: ‘All these people out there, they’re armed too, they have guns on them.’ A sea of people and you can’t know who you’re looking at, which one is looking at you, and they see me out there with this rifle and I’m like: ‘I’m gonna get shot.’”
Dunn spoke to BuzzFeed News in the days after the riot—though his account of the events was kept anonymous. During former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment hearing, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) used one of Dunn’s anonymous quotes from that article: “Is this America?” However, Dunn wishes the quote hadn’t been used.
“It took me back to a dark place because I didn’t say it for a catchphrase,” the Capitol police officer told ABC News. “I wasn’t trying to create a slogan… I struggle… should I be proud? No, not at all… Those were my feelings and that was my truth—it wasn’t a proud moment.”
He praised his fellow officers who were there that day, including officer Brian Sicknick, who lost his life after being attacked by rioters, and who Dunn described as a “brave” and “dedicated officer. Dunn also offered high praise for Officer Eugene Goodman, whose run-ins with rioters were caught on camera and have raised him to the status of national hero.
“Eugene got caught on camera and I’m not surprised that he did the right thing, the brave thing, the heroic thing,” said Dunn. The officer added: “There were so many Eugene Goodmans that weren’t caught on camera that day… I’m proud to work with all of them.”
As for the rioters, it’s clear what Dunn thinks of them. “They were terrorists,” he told ABC News. “They tried to disrupt this country’s democracy—that was their goal… And you know what? Y’all failed because later that night, they went on and they certified the election.”