Jan. 6 hero Harry Dunn could be a huge help to Dems in Congress

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Author, Presidential Citizens Medal recipient and former U.S. Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn, who defended Congress from pro-Trump confederates Jan. 6, 2021, announced his own run for Congress on Friday. He is entering the hotly contested race to succeed retiring Democratic lawmaker John Sarbanes in Maryland’s 3rd District. 

In the announcement video, Dunn introduces himself while walking through a re-enactment of the violence that erupted in the Capitol on Jan. 6. And he says his actions that day required him to put aside his personal identity — as “a father, a Marylander, [and] a Democrat”  — to protect democracy. And he says his ability to prioritize the Constitution over himself is what “allowed me to protect some members of Congress who I knew were bigots, who helped fan the flames that started all of this.”

Dunn addresses them further, saying “I put country above self,” unlike the lawmakers who sided with the violent mob that attacked him: “Some of the same people who stood behind us when we protected them went back on the floor of Congress and stood behind Trump. They voted to acquit him. And worst of all, they denied the violence and trauma that led to the death of some of my fellow officers.”

In the video, Dunn explains that he recently left the Capitol Police force to run for Congress. 

When I spoke with Dunn last year ahead of Trump’s federal indictment on election interference charges, he didn’t give me the typical boilerplate rhetoric about upholding the law that one might expect from a police officer. His reflections on Jan. 6 and how it altered him and his country were passionate and righteous. Which signaled to me that he was destined to be more outspoken about right-wing assaults on democracy — and more involved in fighting them — than his previous job allowed. 

Dunn helped to stave off a violent coup attempt premised on racist lies about fraudulent voters in largely Black districts. And there is something fitting about an officer who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6 joining Congress to confront directly the lies of fellow representatives who continue to sow disinformation about what happened that day.

Much like former Georgia election workers, Dunn speaks authoritatively about his experience at the epicenter of a bigoted and conspiratorial storm of pro-Trump hatred. His would be a powerful voice about the realities of our current politics at a time when a disturbing number of Americans are embracing falsehoods about Jan. 6.

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