Republicans in Pennsylvania walk away from officers who defended the Capitol on January 6

Two former law enforcement officers who defended the U.S. Capitol from rioters during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection were jeered by GOP lawmakers as they visited the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Wednesday, according to several Democratic lawmakers in attendance.

Former U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn and former Sergeant Aquilino Gonell were introduced as “heroes” by House Speaker Joanna McClinton (D) on Wednesday for “bravely defending democracy” in the United States Capitol against rioters and uprisings on January 6. ”

When the two men — both of whom were injured by rioters on Jan. 6 — were introduced, chaos ensued on the House floor. According to Democratic lawmakers, several Republicans hissed and jeered, while some Republicans walked out of the room in protest.

“I heard some hissing and I saw about eight to 10 of my Republican colleagues angrily walking out when they were announced as U.S. Capitol Police officers on January 6,” State Rep. Arvind Venkat (D) said in a telephone interview Thursday. . “I was shocked and appalled,” he added. According to Venkat, the commotion lasted for about five minutes. Fewer than 100 lawmakers, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, were in the chamber before the chaotic scenes unfolded, he said.

The Pennsylvania House has 203 members: 102 Democrats and 101 Republicans.

The sharp reception for the officers in a key battleground underscores how polarizing the legacy of the Jan. 6 insurrection has become between the parties, to the extent that supporting law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol against violent rioters is seen as politically controversial by some lawmakers . .

Dunn and Gonell have also been outspoken politically – both of them are touring Pennsylvania this week to campaign for President Biden’s re-election, including stops in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. Earlier this year, Dunn launched an unsuccessful bid to be nominated as a Democrat for a Maryland seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Senior Republicans who responded to requests for comment from The Post did not comment directly on the strike but emphasized their support for law enforcement and accused Democratic lawmakers of trying to politicize the incident.

‘I was in the House of Representatives yesterday and personally spoke with both former officers at the Speaker’s rostrum. I and other members of our caucus also had photos taken with the former officers,” House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler said in an emailed statement. He characterized Democratic lawmakers as “antagonizing members and provoking division and dissension for their political and campaign purposes.”

Republican caucus chairman George Dunbar said he “did not see who did what on the floor yesterday but believed the actions of House Democrats were designed for political purposes,” adding that he greeted the two officers and “ the deepest respect” for the Capitol. police officers “as well as all law enforcement officers.”

“There were definitely Republican members who applauded and stood their ground. But a majority did not,” Rep. Mike Schlossberg (D), who also attended, said in an email Wednesday. “It was shameful and disgraceful,” House Caucus Chairman Schlossberg added. At one point, Schlossberg said the cheering and jeering became so loud “that the Speaker had to raise her voice to be heard above the noise.”

In a statement shared with The Washington Post, Chairman McClinton (D) described the actions as “despicable.”

“These brave former law enforcement officers were disrespected by many Republican members who walked out of the House of Representatives, turned their backs and booed the officers. The shameful behavior of the Republican members was unbecoming of our institution, for any guest, let alone two of the men responsible for defending our democracy during a dark day in our country’s history.”

Schlossberg said the response from his Republican counterparts was somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

“These brave men were injured protecting elected officials in a government building, and my colleagues – elected officials working in a government building – had the audacity to disrespect men who protected people like them,” he said.

Dunn was pepper sprayed and injured during hand-to-hand combat while defending the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. He has since launched a PAC to support anti-Trump candidates. “This is about democracy versus dictatorship,” he said Tuesday during a campaign stop in Pittsburgh, according to the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.

Gonell was battered during the Capitol riot, and both of his hands were injured when he stopped an attacker from swinging a PVC pipe at another officer who was not wearing a helmet. After Tuesday’s strike, the Iraq War veteran accused Pennsylvania House Republicans of “abandoning the truth” and “siding with those who attacked us.”

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