“Everyone has scars from that day:” Inside the Confronting January 6th Panel


Screenshot: Dr. Bell, Officer Dunn, and Officer Hodges from “Confronting January 6th” Panel Discussion. Courtesy of Randolph-Macon College Office of Marketing and Communications

Randolph-Macon College

Grace Bakeman, News Editor

On January 19, 2023, Political Science Professor Lauren Bell hosted U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn and D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Danny Hodges here at Randolph-Macon College for a review of the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Officers Dunn and Hodges both responded to protect those in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Following their service, both officers were awarded Congressional Gold Medals as well as Presidential
Citizenship Medals, both of which are among the highest awards Congress can give citizens.

Officer Dunn described the events of  January 6, 2021 as massive crowds gathered outside the Capitol where he was stationed to make the U.S. Capitol Police presence known. As the day evolved, Dunn described the process of gearing up and preparing to enter the Capitol while facing attacks by gathered protestors.

During the attack, Dunn and his fellow officers held attackers back by forming a blockade in the tunnel leading to the Capitol Building and holding the line until
reinforcements from Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, and the National Guard were able to assist. Contrary to public suggestions of conspiracy, Dunn declared the attack was an effort by Trump supporters to install a dictator, knowingly or otherwise.

From another perspective, Officer Hodges of the D.C. Metropolitan Police described the frequency of opportunities for the Metropolitan force to address protesters throughout the year. One unique trait of January 6, 2021 was the sheer quantity of assembled protestors as early as 6:45 am. In Hodges’ account of the day, he stated that “everyone has scars from the day” as attackers broke into the Capitol. Despite the highly politicized aftermath of the attack, Hodges recounted that the law enforcement’s main priority was to survive and do their jobs as instructed.

Throughout the panel discussion Confronting January 6th, both Officers Dunn and Hodges emphasized how important it is to take the time to learn, understand, and share the truth. While the discussion was highly nuanced, both officers emphasized how detailed the legal regulations to their roles as officers greatly impacted their actions on the day of the attack on the Capitol.