Papathanasiou defeats Dunn in race to lead Capitol Police union

Contest featured outside unions weighing in on candidates

Gus Papathanasiou, chairman of the U.S. Capitol Police Labor Committee, won reelection Friday. (CQ Roll Call)
Gus Papathanasiou, chairman of the U.S. Capitol Police Labor Committee, won reelection Friday. (CQ Roll Call)
Posted November 19, 2021 at 10:59am, Updated at 2:37pm

Rank-and-file Capitol Police officers on Friday reelected Gus Papathanasiou to lead their union, defeating challenger Harry Dunn in the secret ballot election.  

Dunn’s challenge to Papathanasiou, who has led the union for the past five years, was a highly contentious race with outside unions weighing in on behalf of Papathanasiou. In the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection, the two, who both have a public platform, took divergent approaches on who is to blame for the attack. 

Papathanasiou has focused on the shortcomings of Capitol Police leadership. In February, Papathanasiou called a no confidence vote on several top department officials for their roles leading up to and during the Capitol attack. The subject of that vote included then-acting Chief Yogananda Pittman and acting Assistant Chief Sean Gallagher.

Dunn, who is Black, testified before the Jan. 6 select panel and did several media interviews recounting the racism and violence he faced from pro-Trump rioters who stormed the Capitol. He was subjected to a barrage of racial slurs from insurrectionists, including a woman who wore a pink MAGA shirt.

Dunn advocated for congressional action to investigate the Capitol attack. He, along with D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone and Gladys Sicknick, the mother of fallen Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, urged Congress in May to vote to create an independent commission to investigate the attack, modeled on the 9/11 Commission.

When that effort was blocked by Senate Republicans, Dunn pushed for a select committee to investigate the insurrection. He received a hug from Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the resolution establishing the House’s select committee was being voted on.

In a statement, Dunn said it was an “honor” to be nominated to run for the position and congratulated Papathanasiou on winning. 

“We may fundamentally disagree, but I think it is safe to say we both want the best for the men and women of the Capitol Police Force and I would be happy to work with him,” Dunn said. “I will continue to do everything I can to help my fellow officers meet the challenges they confront in performing our vital law enforcement duties, while continuing to be a champion for justice, accountability and democracy.”

Papathanasiou declined to comment.