Pennsylvania State GOP Boo and Walk Out on Capitol Officers Who Were Present During January 6th

By: Alex Trent | Published: Jun 07, 2024

On Wednesday, two law enforcement officers who were present during the defense of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, stopped by Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives.

To the surprise of some, the two men were met with boos and jeers from state GOP lawmakers and several Republicans walked out of the legislature chamber in protest.

Visiting the Legislature

US Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, along with his former Sergeant Aquilino Gonell were introduced to the House floor by Democrat speaker Joanna McClinton.

A view from far away of the capitol building in Pennsylvania.

Source: J. Passepartout/Wikimedia

Clinton called the men “heroes” who had “bravely defended democracy in the United States Capitol against rioters and insurrection on January 6.”


Republican Jeering

However, as the two former capitol police officers were introduced, loud booing and hissing filled the House floor in a scene reported as chaotic by the Washington Post.

The logo for the Republican Party in the United States.

Source: Republican Party/Wikimedia

“I heard some hissing and I saw about eight to 10 of my Republican colleagues walk out angrily as they were announced as police officers from the U.S. Capitol on January 6,” said Democrat state Representative Arvind Venkat (D). “I was shocked and appalled.”

Quick Commotion

Venkat told the Washington Post that the commotion only lasted about five minutes and less than 100 lawmakers were present in the chamber at the time of the incident.

The House chamber of the state capitol buidling in Pennsylvania.

Source: Ruhrfisch/Wikimedia

Reportedly there was an even split of Democrats and Republicans in those hundred, which is much less than the 203 members the Pennsylvania House seats.

Shameful Behavior

House Speaker Clinton decried the behavior that she saw from GOP members as shameful and unbecoming.

A man yells while pointing and looking at the viewer.

Source: Slavcho Malezan/Unsplash

“The GOP members’ shameful behavior 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 nation’s history,” McClinton said. ”The Republicans’ disrespect, lack of patriotism and even common decency, epitomizes the poor behavior that so many in the MAGA movement have adopted.”

Why Did Republicans Have Such a Strong Reaction?

The two former officers who attended have been vocally and politically outspoken following the January 6 incident, which itself has become a politically controversial topic in America.

A man wearing a MAGA hat holds an American flag.

Source: Anthony Crider/Wikimedia

These officers have also been touring and campaigning in Pennsylvania for President Joe Biden, a key battleground state. Former officer Dunn had also previously tried to win a Democrat nomination for a US Maryland House seat but ultimately failed.


Officer Response

Former sergeant Gomel responded to the incident on the social media platform X, accusing the GOP in Pennsylvania of abandoning their support of the law.

A police officer walking through a glass door.

Source: Logan Waver/Unsplash

“The @PAHouseGOP like many elected officials I helped protect and defend at the U.S. Capitol, have abandoned the truth/sided with those who attacked us, the police, while at the same time saying they support the police and the rule of law. I’m not buying your bridges,” said Gonell.


There is No Bottom

State representative Malcolm Kenyatta also weighed in on the incident, posting pictures of himself with Gonell and Dunn.

Pennsylvania Representative Malcolm Kenyatta pictured with Officer Harry Dun.

Source: malcolmkenyatta/X

“Today we welcomed two American heroes, Officer Harry Dunn  @libradunn  and Sergeant Aquilino Gonell to the Pennsylvania Capitol.  A number of House Republicans literally booed, hissed, and walked off the floor — there is no bottom,” Kenyatta said.


Lack of Decency

Some commenters online expressed their frustration with the walkout move by Republicans, thinking it speaks to a declining decorum seen among the modern Republican party.

Donald Trump does a dance on stage at a campaign rally in New York.

Source: Liam Enea/Wikimedia

“I’m so tired of MAGA’s lack of decorum. Or their lack of dignity and decency,” said one X user. “The GOP says it backs the blue….what a joke,” said another user.


Controversial Figures

Other commenters did not view the two men as heroes and felt they were not welcome in the state.

Officer Harry Dunn pictured next to Nancy Pelosi.

Source: libradunn/X

“These two are perjurers and liars. They deserve no welcome in Pennsylvania,” wrote an X user. “Liars are not heros. Only to the democratic communist party,” said an X user in response to Kenyatta.


Not All Republicans

Although Republicans were behind the booing and hissing of former capitol police officers, state Republican leader Bryan Cutler told The Hill that he and others in the party met with them personally and properly.

A person standing beside many others outside wearing a red backward Make America Great Again hat.

Source: James McNellis/Wikimedia Commons

“I was on the House Floor yesterday and I personally spoke to both of the former officers at the Speaker’s rostrum. I and other members of our caucus also had their pictures taken with the former officers,” said Cutler.


Democrat Stunt

Cutler accused Democrats of trying to antagonize Republican House members for the purpose of raising campaign funds, sharing a screenshot with The Hill that showed a fundraising email that went out asking for donations after the walkout.

A photo of a series of one-hundred-dollar US bills.

Source: Engin Akyurt/Unsplash

“Unfortunately, they have, through House processes, demonstrated a pattern of antagonizing members and inviting division and discord for their political and campaign purposes. This is something that is continuing to frustrate our members and is damaging the credibility [of] all the actions of the Democrat majority,” Cutler said.