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Capitol police officer reacts to the new findings about Jan. 6


More sentences were handed down this week for people convicted in crimes related to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Robert Palmer, for example, attacked police officers with a fire extinguisher and was sentenced to more than five years in prison, the longest such sentence yet. His verdicts came as a congressional committee continues to pursue its investigation into January 6.

One of the many people watching all of this very closely is U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn. He, of course, was on Capitol Hill that day and joins us now. Officer Dunn, thank you so much for being with us.

HARRY DUNN: I appreciate the opportunity to sit down and talk with you.

SIMON: I wonder what your reaction is to the two tracks of justice at this particular point - the courts handing down sentences and the investigation in Congress.

DUNN: You know, this whole January 6 thing has been very challenging. There's so much information coming out every week, every day. And you can't really turn it off because we're vested in it. We're victims of that day, so it's hard to get detached from it. I will say that the text messages released is - were disappointing. It just confirms what I knew, that they knew how bad it was that day, and yet they still tried to downplay it.

SIMON: When you say they, you mean certain Fox News anchors and Donald Trump Jr.

DUNN: Yes, sir.

SIMON: We know of four officers from the D.C. and Metro D.C. and Capitol Police departments who, I'm afraid, took their own lives in the...

DUNN: Yeah.

SIMON: ...In the time that followed the attempted insurrection. How are you and your colleagues doing now?

DUNN: I'll take this moment to implore people to get help, to talk with somebody. Your life matters.

SIMON: And we - you know, we should explain that the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255 - 800-273-8255.

DUNN: Thank you. Thank you for doing that. I was initially very sad. I was depressed, suffering from PTSD. But that sadness and the depression turned into anger, a desire to see the people who were responsible for this - are responsible for this - the desire to see them held accountable.

SIMON: Do you believe they are being held accountable now?

DUNN: There's a lot more that needs to happen. I believe the Justice Department had over 700 arrests. These are - I don't know the exact number. We're not there yet. But I guess we're on the right track.

SIMON: You, of course, notably appeared before Congress in July. We would like to play a moment from your testimony that stays with a lot of people.


DUNN: I sat down on a bench in the rotunda with a friend of mine who was also a Black Capitol Police officer and told him about the racial slurs I endured. I became very emotional and began yelling, how the blank could something like this happen? Is this America?

SIMON: I wonder, in the whatever added time you've had to reflect, have you asked yourself your own question?

DUNN: I didn't ask myself that question. I think I was able to answer it. Is this America? I - it is and is a part of America. And it's irresponsible for us to act like that does not exist. And how could something like this happen? I believe that's what the lawmakers are working to figure out now. I'll just patiently await that.

SIMON: U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn. Take care, sir.

DUNN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.