Harry Dunn, officer who defended the US Capitol on Jan. 6, is running for Congress in Maryland

Harry Dunn announced his candidacy a day before the third anniversary of the violent attack at the Capitol by a mob of Donald Trump supporters.

U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Harry Dunn

File photo: U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Harry Dunn listens as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its final meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Dunn, who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 announced Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024 he is running for Congress in Maryland. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

A former police officer who defended the U.S. Capitol against rioters on Jan. 6 announced Friday that he is running for Congress in Maryland.

Harry Dunn announced his candidacy a day before the third anniversary of the violent attack at the Capitol by a mob of Donald Trump supporters that disrupted the certification of the 2020 presidential election for Joe Biden.

“This moment that we are in requires everybody to step up and step into their role in defending and preserving democracy, and I’m stepping into mine right now,” Dunn said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Dunn said he has long been interested in public service, and the announcement in October by Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes, a Democrat, that he would not seek reelection provided the opportunity to run in what has become a crowded Democratic primary for Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District, a heavily Democratic jurisdiction that stretches between Baltimore and the nation’s capital.

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Dunn announced his candidacy early Friday morning on X, formerly known as Twitter, saying that Trump was “hell-bent on finishing what he started” three years ago.

“On January 6th, I defended our democracy from insurrectionists as a Capitol Police Officer. After, President Biden honored me with the Presidential Citizens Medal,” Dunn wrote. “Today, I’m running for Congress to stop Trump’s MAGA extremists & ensure it never happens again.”

Dunn said he has been thinking about Jan. 6 every day for the last three years, describing it as “a rollercoaster ride of emotions,” feelings that have included anger, sadness and even joy at seeing participants in the rioting convicted in court.

More than 1,230 people have been charged with federal crimes in the riot, ranging from misdemeanor offenses like trespassing to felonies like assaulting police officers and seditious conspiracy. About 730 people have pleaded guilty to charges, while about 170 have been convicted of at least one charge at a trial decided by a judge or a jury, according to an Associated Press database.

Dunn said he still has a sense of “horror about the track that the country is on.”

“I don’t think it’s farfetched to say that we are one election cycle away from extinction of democracy as we know it today,” Dunn said in the AP interview.

Sarbanes, who has served nine terms, is one of about two dozen Democrats who are not seeking reelection in the House. Fourteen Republicans have said they are not seeking another term.

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“A lot of people are leaving, because I don’t know of a better way to say it, it’s a very toxic place. But I do believe that in times like this it is important for good people to stand up, so the bad guys, so to speak, do not win,” Dunn said.

Dunn, 40, said he believes his experience as a Capitol police officer would be valuable in Congress.

“I’ve been on the frontlines, physically fighting for democracy, seeing the infighting on the floors in the halls of Congress, seeing members of Congress not even be able to have common decent discussions with each other,” he said. “And I think that I would offer a very unique perspective — one as a person who has physically defended them and then two, who has seen the ins and outs of it every day, and ideologically going to push back against these individuals trying to destroy our democracy.”

Dunn said he stepped down from his police job several weeks ago to run for Congress, after 15 years on as a Capitol police officer.

Dunn, who testified before the Jan. 6 committee in Washington, told lawmakers about an exchange he had with rioters who had fully bought into Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen and believed “nobody voted for Joe Biden.”

In his testimony before Congress in 2021, Dunn, who is Black, described how rioters yelled racial slurs at him after he told them that he voted for Biden and his vote should be counted. Dunn said the crowd of intruders yelling racial slurs at him was something that never happened while he was on duty during more than a dozen years on the force.

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