Officer who defended Capitol on January 6 runs for Congress in Maryland

January 8, 2024

Harry Dunn—a former U.S. Capitol Police officer who rose to prominence for his defense of the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and for his emotional public testimony describing the attack—announced on Friday, January 8, that he was running for Congress in Maryland’s third district, reports The New York Times.

“On January 6, 2021, I did my duty as a police officer and as an American and defended our nation’s Capitol from violent insurrectionists,” Dunn said in a statement. “Today, I’m running for Congress because the forces that spurred that violent attack are still at work, and as a patriotic American, it is my duty to defend our democracy.”

Dunn, 40, will enter a crowded Democratic primary field to replace Representative John Sarbanes, the retiring 17-year incumbent. Five state lawmakers have already announced their campaigns to represent the central Maryland district, which snakes between Washington and Baltimore. Whoever emerges from the primary in the overwhelmingly Democratic district is almost certain to win the general election.

Dunn testified about the attack by the pro-Trump mob on the Capitol, where lawmakers had gathered to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election. He described how fellow officers were bloodied in the battle and how rioters used racist slurs against him.

“I sat down on a bench with a friend of mine who is also a Black Capitol Police officer and told him about the racial slurs I had endured,” Dunn recalled during a memorable portion of the testimony. He added that he “became very emotional,” asking how such a thing could happen and yelling, “‘Is this America?’”

“I began sobbing, and officers came over to console me,” he said.

In 2023, President Biden awarded Dunn the Presidential Citizens Medal in recognition for his role in protecting the Capitol.

Dunn grew up in the Washington suburbs of Prince George’s County, Maryland and graduated from James Madison University in Virginia, where he played football and helped lead the team to its first national title.

He has written a book called “Standing My Ground.” In an interview, Dunn said his last day at a police officer was December 17. If elected, Dunn said he would fight for women’s reproductive rights, “common sense” gun reform, voting rights and affordable health care, among other priorities.

He said he believes he is the candidate in the field best equipped to combat the right-wing movement loyal to former President Donald Trump.

“I’ve been miserable since January 6, and I think the only thing that’s really kept me motivated to keep going into work was to continue to fight,” Mr. Dunn said, adding: “We’re literally an election away from the extinction of democracy as we know it. Trump is gaining even more traction, and his supporters are getting even stronger and more emboldened–and we need people that are willing to step up and fight back.”

As a resident of Montgomery County, Mr. Dunn acknowledged he does not live in the Third Congressional District, but he said he spends a lot of time there and would move into the district. A candidate must live in Maryland to run for the seat, but there is no Constitutional requirement that a congressional candidate must live in the district he or she seeks to represent.

Research contact: @nytimes