Standing my ground A Capitol police officer's fight for accountability and good trouble after January 6th

Harry Dunn

Book - 2023

"Walking the halls of democracy as a Capitol Police officer, Harry Dunn was a man slowly experiencing an awakening. It sparked after the election of our first Black president. It grew as his belief in the bravery and honor of law enforcement was shaken by Ferguson and countless other cases of police brutality towards Black people. It continued to burn brighter as he watched members of Congress, many of whom he had befriended, lose their way to partisanship, as political extremism intensified. And it exploded into a blaze when he fought side by side with his fellow officers on January 6th, when democracy and their lives were threatened. "Standing My Ground" provides a crucial, definitive, and first-hand account of what happene...d that day our world was shocked to its core. But it also shares the story of a man who refused to stay quiet when he learned that some of the men and women he had risked his life protecting, who knew him by name, would deny the horrors they faced. That's when he chose to speak up and to seek out what his hero John Lewis once termed "good trouble." Dunn's ongoing story as a witness willing to meaningfully engage with the media, lawmakers, and the public provides a backdrop for examining the political and racial divide in this country--one that we must overcome in order to demand accountability and preserve our precious democracy"--

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  • Prologue
  • Protecting democracy
  • Growing into the job
  • The insurrection: part I
  • The insurrection : part II
  • The day after
  • Our Blue lives didn't matter
  • Racists, QAnon, criminals [do not equal] patriots
  • Finding my way back from their insanity
  • The fight is never over
  • Epilogue.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Dunn pulls too many punches in this underwhelming account of his experiences as a member of the Capitol Police during and after the attempted Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection in Washington, D.C. He alternates between visceral accounts of holding rioters back from the Capitol--which included his being called the n-word for the first time by a protester--with reflections on his childhood in suburban Maryland and his adolescent hopes for a pro football career. Following a suggestion from a customer at his car rental job, Dunn joined the Capitol's police force in 2008, rising to the rank of private first class by 2011. That training, Dunn explains, put him in good shape to handle the events of January 6. Unfortunately, when he addresses the security failures that enabled the event, Dunn descends into foggy vagueness, contending on the one hand that he was let down by his bosses, while on the other suggesting that police chief Steven Sund, who resigned at the behest of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was treated unfairly. Elsewhere, Dunn stumbles in his attempt to frame the Capitol riot as a collective "trauma." This well-intentioned effort comes up short. Agent: Kirsten Neuhaus, Ultra Literary. (Oct.)

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

A decorated law enforcement officer shares his experiences on the day of the Capitol insurrection. Dunn was at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, when rioters stormed the building while Congress was in session. He and dozens of other officers were injured, several fatally. The author lucidly dissects the elements of the Capitol Police and how they work, and he briefly discusses his youth in Maryland and his desire to play professional football. When physical limitations sidelined those aspirations, Dunn found his way to the Capitol Police in 2008, where he observed how impassioned protests demonstrated the power of democracy and freedom of expression. These experiences helped him grow into his political thinking, which he shares throughout the book. Dunn dramatically recounts the hours leading up to the attack as he questioned the need to wear riot gear in anticipation of a possible attack. His intimate first-person chronicling of the crowd's violent surge is as riveting as his account of retreating to his post, covered in pepper spray and bruises, to take a video call from his young daughter. He candidly addresses his mounting frustration and disbelief weeks later as the event's violent intensity became diluted, told that it was just "random wingnuts who got a little too carried away." Disillusioned, he fought for justice, starting with an interview with a Buzzfeed reporter and continuing with an impact statement to the Justice Department during an Oath Keepers trial. For appearing publicly, Dunn admits, he has been both praised and viciously vilified for openly rebuking the insurrectionists who "tried to destroy the very lifeblood of this nation." Throughout this forcefully delivered book, Dunn's passion for true patriotism and the tenets of constitutional democracy resonate, despite his emotional pain and PTSD. A sobering, heroic testimonial about an infamous day in American history. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.