During the debut hearing of the Jan. 6th Committee, U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn testified about the vitriol, racism, and violence experienced by Black law enforcement defending the U.S. Capitol. He shared more of his experiences to a federal jury on Monday as a key witness against leaders of the Oath Keepers group.
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four other of the group’s leaders and members have been standing trial on charges of seditious conspiracy, a rarely deployed statute punishing attempts to overthrow the government or the implementation of one of its laws by force. In the Oath Keepers case, that government function is the Jan. 6th certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.
Approaching his 15th year on the force in November, Dunn appeared for duty at 6:45 a.m. on Jan. 6, 2021. He said that he did not go back home until around midnight. A federal prosecutor questioned him about his interactions with the Oath Keepers between that time, showing him a photograph of himself standing behind a group of members.
The name of the Oath Keepers refers to the defense of the U.S. Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, as an organization caters to former military and law enforcement personnel.
When shown a video of his interactions with the group’s members, Dunn testified that they appeared to disregard what he told them about attacks on law enforcement by the rioters.
“Dozens of officers down, taking them out on stretchers,” Dunn said he told them. “You all are fucking us up.”
Dunn testified that they did nothing help law enforcement after he made that statement.
Shown another video from that day, Dunn quoted himself telling the mob: “I’m not letting you come this way.”
On cross-examination, attorney Brad Geyer, who represents Oath Keepers member Kenneth Harrelson, showed a video with subtitles showing Dunn telling rioters: “You’ll be finished… in one fuckin’ minute.”
The context of the footage is unclear, but Geyer pressed Dunn to agree that he was saying that to the Oath Keepers. Dunn said that he could not identify them.
Time and again, Geyer asked whether Dunn commonly used profanity, a line of attack that Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexandra Hughes ridiculed on redirect examination.
When she asked whether it was common to see rioters roaming through the hallways of the Capitol, Dunn replied: “Unprecedented.”
Thoughout his questioning, Geyer suggested that Harrelson and the other Oath Keepers helped him try to guard a set of stairs going to the lower west terrace. Various defense attorneys for the Oath Keepers say that Dunn told that to the FBI in an interview in May 2021, but Dunn said that he was referring to a different group of roughly four rioters in the Crypt, where the Oath Keepers never reached.
Dunn said he confused the two groups because both were wearing tactical gear.
“I told them that there were officers getting the shit kicked out of them. That there were officers down, officers hurt,” he recalled.
Though the Oath Keepers’ lawyers have used the FBI interview to depict their clients as helping law enforcement on Jan. 6th, another video submitted into evidence showed Dunn apparently in the dark about the group.
As one rioter asked him where the Oath Keepers’ command center was, Dunn responded: “Oath Keepers? What the fuck are the Oath Keepers?”
During his congressional testimony, Dunn describing being called the N-word dozens of times. He recalled asking himself that day: “Is this America?”
[Image via MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images]
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