On Jan. 6, after the violent pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol had finally been cleared from the building, U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn sobbed on a bench in the rotunda as he told another Black officer about the racial slurs he’d been subjected to during the riot.
“How the ‘blank’ could something like this happen?” Dunn asked his fellow officer. “Is this America?”
Dunn relayed this exchange during emotional testimony Tuesday before the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack. He testified that on Jan. 6, a group of rioters who’d breached the Capitol, some of whom carried Confederate flags, hurled racial epithets at him when he tried to get them to leave the building.
After the rioters were told to leave, Dunn said the group responded, “No, man, this is our house. President Trump invited us here.”
While Dunn said that as a law enforcement officer, “I do my best to keep politics out of my job,” he felt compelled to engage when members of the mob, who’d sought to stop Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election, falsely claimed that “nobody voted for Joe Biden.”
Dunn said he told the group, many of whom were wearing T-shirts and hats emblazoned with Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” or MAGA, that he voted for Biden and asked, “Does my vote not count? Am I nobody?”
This, he said, “prompted a torrent of racial epithets.”
“One woman in a pink MAGA shirt yelled, ‘You hear that, guys? This n***** voted for Joe Biden,’” Dunn recalled. “Then the crowd, perhaps around 20 people, joined in screaming ‘Boooo, f***ing n*****!’”
Choking back tears, he told the panel, “No one had ever, ever called me a n***** while wearing the uniform of a Capitol Police officer.”
But he wasn’t the only one subjected to racist attacks that day. Dunn said that “in the days following the attempted insurrection, other Black officers shared with me their own stories of racial abuse on Jan. 6.”
He said that one officer had been confronted by a group of insurrectionists inside the Capitol who told him, “Put your gun down and we’ll show you what kind of n***** you really are.”
Another told him he’d never in his life been called the N-word to his face.
“That streak ended on Jan. 6,” Dunn said.
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