East Pittsburgh, PA
5:48 am8:51 pm EDT
June 15, 2024 8:33 am

Local News

Former Capitol police officers attacked on Jan. 6 campaign for Biden in Pittsburgh

Officer Harry Dunn (speaking) and Sergeant Aquilino Gonell (left), who were members of the Capitol Police on Jan. 6, 2021, campaigned in Pittsburgh for President Joe Biden on June 4, 2024 (Credit: Pennsylvania Capital-Star)

Kim Lyons, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
June 4, 2024

PITTSBURGH — Two former Capitol Police officers who were at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 campaigned for President Joe Biden in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, warning that if former President Donald Trump wins another term, there would be nothing preventing a repeat of the insurrection that took place that day. 

“He doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt any more,” former Officer Harry Dunn said of Trump at a press conference in front of the Fred Rogers memorial statue on the city’s North Shore. “He’s told us, he’s shown us what he is, what he means. He calls the people who attacked our capital ‘patriots.’ He called the men and women who died serving our country ‘suckers and losers.’”

Dunn, who made an unsuccessful bid for Congress in Maryland this year, clashed with Jan. 6 rioters as he helped guard former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office that day.

“This is about democracy versus dictatorship,” Dunn said of the 2024 election. “The choice could not be more clear.”

Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, an Army veteran, described the injuries he received on January 6, including being beaten with a flagpole, which he said required two surgeries. Gonell resigned from the Capitol Police in 2022. 

He criticized Trump for referring to the people who participated in the attack on the Capitol as “hostages” and “political prisoners,” noting that Trump “plays footage of that awful day at his rallies now.”

“We were assaulted and beaten by a mob who believed Donald Trump’s lies that the 2020 election was stolen,” Gonell said.

The officers’ appearance in Pittsburgh comes a few days after Trump was convicted on 34 felony counts at his hush-money trial in New York. Trump is scheduled to be sentenced July 11, just a few days before the Republican National Convention begins. He has said he plans to appeal the verdict.

Trump has called the people who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 “patriots” at his campaign rallies, and argues they have been treated unfairly. He has said he plans to pardon them if he wins another term in office. 

In February, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Trump’s request to throw out federal charges accusing him of lying to and encouraging his supporters ahead of the Jan. 6 attack. Trump and his attorneys had argued the case should be dismissed because Trump was acting in his official capacity as president and therefore had immunity. The U.S. Supreme Court is considering Trump’s appeal in the case. 

The Trump campaign did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Gonell and Dunn also had harsh words for the members of Congress, many of whom were helped to safety by Capitol Police on Jan, 6, for supporting the rioters in the months and years since. “The day that we testified [before the Jan. 6 committee], they were outside the D.C. jail protesting that those guys be released,” Dunn said. 

“The only reason they’re able to make those statements is because they were able to escape, with the time and effort we put in that day,” Gonell said, adding the lack of support for the officers was “disappointing.”

The two officers were introduced at Tuesday’s press conference by Lindsey Scott, an Iraq War veteran who described herself as a former “John McCain Republican,” but said she switched her registration to the Democratic Party after watching the proceedings of Trump’s first impeachment. “The threat that Trump poses to our democracy is far from gone,” Scott said. “Trump has pledged to be a dictator on day one. Has a dictator ever willingly given up power?” 

Tuesday’s appearance was the first of several campaign events that Dunn and Gonell are planning across Pennsylvania this week. The two have stumped for Biden in other battleground states, and appeared outside the courtroom in New York City ahead of the guilty verdict in Trump’s hush money trial.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Pennsylvania Capital-Star under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.