The muscular officer doesn’t seem to be easily upset. Harry Dunn has been with the Washington Capitol Police for 13 years. But when the African-American testified before the Commission of Inquiry last week about the bloody coup attempt on January 6, he could hardly contain his emotions: “What are we about …
The muscular officer doesn’t seem to be easily upset. Harry Dunn has been with the Washington Capitol Police for 13 years. But when the African-American testified before the Commission of Inquiry last week about the bloody attempted coup on January 6, he could hardly contain his emotions: “What we experienced that day was traumatic.” Dunn openly reported on the therapy he was doing then. “If it bothers you, please get help,” he told his colleagues.
The seriousness of the senior official’s advice is now becoming poignantly clear: as early as January, two police officers defending the Capitol had committed suicide. Last Thursday, two days after the commission of inquiry was heard, a 43-year-old Washington police officer shot himself in his home. And on Monday it was announced that a 26-year-old colleague had already committed suicide in mid-July. The motives are not clear in all cases. But the suicides have one thing in common: All four men were involved in the Capitol coup.
The scenes that took place on January 6 in and around the Washington legislature are shocking, even after more than six months: an angry mob attacked the hopelessly overwhelmed police who were tasked with securing the building as “Nazis” and “traitors”. Harry Dunn shared how he was racially insulted with the N-word, which had never happened to him while on duty.
It wasn’t just verbal attacks. The rioters later used bear spray and flagpoles against the officers and threw rocks and bottles. Jeffrey S., one of two police officers who committed suicide a few days after the incident, was hit in the head by a metal rod. His colleague Aquilino Gonell said in the commission of inquiry that he was not as scared during the war in Iraq as he was that day in the Capitol.
A total of 140 police officers were injured in the unrest caused by a speech by ex-President Donald Trump calling on his supporters to fight “like the devil” against the certification of the election results in parliament. A police officer suffered a heart attack during the brutal attacks and died the next day. Four protesters were killed. The families of Howard L. and Jeffrey S., who committed suicide shortly after the attempted Capitol storm, see the two police officers as victims of the bloody rebellion and are fighting for recognition of their deaths as a result of the office’s drill. “If he hadn’t gone to work that day, he would still be alive,” Jeffrey S.’s widow Erin S. told the Washington Post. Like these two officials before, Speaker of Parliament Nancy Pelosi also paid tribute to Gunther H. as a “hero” on Monday. The policeman who shot himself last Thursday leaves behind a wife and three children.
Despite this tragic aftermath, January 6 is increasingly downplayed and reinterpreted by Republicans. Donald Trump and his confidants claimed early on that the rioters were in fact left-wing anti-fascist activists. Now far-right MPs like Matt Gaetz are spreading the conspiracy story that the FBI infiltrated the militias and incited them to rebellion. “Large sections of the protesters were peaceful,” claims Senator Ron Johnson, who also cited the FBI story without any evidence.
This kind of radical denial of reality, complains police officer Michael Fanone, who was beaten with a stun gun on January 6, makes coping with the experience even more difficult for the officers: “I feel like I went through hell to get the people in this room,” said the 40-year-old on the inquiry, “and now too many people are telling me that hell doesn’t exist or wasn’t that bad. Fanone had only one adjective for the indifference with which his colleagues were treated: “pathetic “.