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‘Why Shouldn’t I Want Justice?’: Capitol Officer Harry Dunn Says He Does Not Accept Rioter’s Apology

A Black Capitol officer who fought a violent, racist mob of Donald Trump supporters at the nation’s top congressional building on Jan. 6 rejected one of the rioters’ apology this week.

Harry Dunn, a veteran officer, said he was left traumatized and bloodied after fighting off dozens of rioters who lashed out at him while hurling racial slurs.

Harry Dunn, veteran Capitol officer, says he was not ready for the apology that he received from a Jan. 6 rioter on Tuesday, July 12, 2022. (Photo: YouTube/PBS Hour)

“Boo! F-cking n-gger!” Dunn recalled a crowd of 20 yelling at him.

Dunn said he had to seek therapy and peer-group support because of the attack. After a July 12 congressional committee hearing on the attack, rioter Stephen Ayres offered his apologies. The moment between Dunn and Ayres was captured in a photo that soon went viral on Twitter, with a caption from one user, Miss Lizzy saying, “An apology given and accepted.”

However, Dunn quickly retweeted Miss Lizzy’s tweet, stating that Ayers gave the apology, but he did not accept it. He later told MSNBC that he was not ready for the apology, which was not enough.

“It caught me off guard. And, you know, good for him for apologizing. But, you know, he owed an apology to the entire world, to the entire American democracy, to the American people,” Dunn said during an appearance on Tuesday’s “The Last Word” on MSNBC. “You know, he, whether he inflicted violence or harm on anybody, he kept us from doing our job that day and he needs to be held accountable. So I acknowledged his apology, but I had other things going on where I’m not accepting it at the moment.”

Dunn said he feared for his life that day even though he was armed with a firearm, baton and pepper spray. The 6-foot-7 man with a muscular frame said his best weapon was his fists, left bruised and bloodied as he tried to protect his life and the integrity of Congress, which he vowed to safeguard 13 years ago.

Dunn told The New York Times last February that the attack left him emotionally hurt and in tears. He broke down as he and another Black officer tried to grasp the reality of what happened.

“I said to my buddy, ‘I got called n**** a couple dozen times today.’ I’m looking at him. He’s got blood on him. I’ve got bloody knuckles. We’re hurting. That’s when I said, ‘Is this America?’ and I started crying. Tears are coming down my face. ‘Is this America?’”

Dunn, who told the committee in an earlier hearing that the mob received its “marching orders” from Trump, added Tuesday that he couldn’t focus on healing until everyone involved is held accountable.

“When do you get over it? I can’t start, I don’t think, healing until accountability is served and justice is served. Just like any other victim in America when any other injustice happens to them,” he said. “Why am I any different? Why shouldn’t I want accountability? Why shouldn’t I want justice, just like any other individual? So until that happens, I’m going to keep fighting for it.”


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