Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn is known for his stoic testimony about how he and other outnumbered law enforcement personnel put themselves between a violent mob and lawmakers during the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, literally defending democracy while risking their safety.
During Thanksgiving weekend, the Prince George’s County native continued that endeavor, becoming the face of efforts to raise money for Democratic Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock in his fight to fend off Republican challenger Herschel Walker in the Dec. 6 runoff election.
With emphasis on the face part.
“It was good fun for a good cause,” Dunn told me this week, of his participation in a novel Twitter fundraiser by Washington, D.C., social media personality and writer Cynthia Ntini-Jacobson, better known online as Qondi.
Dunn, 39, who grew up in Clinton but now lives in Silver Spring, first became aware of the Qondi account this past summer when she showed up in his Twitter mentions defending his decision not to accept the apology of convicted Jan. 6 rioter Stephen Ayres. Ntini-Jacobson liked his stance but also found him quite good looking — as did many of the women in her thread.
Ntini-Jacobson, a married mom of two, real estate investor and former international business consultant, has gained tens of thousands of followers, including celebrities, with her quirky Twitter threads combining civic engagement and attractive photos of Warnock, who she’s nicknamed “Senator Bae,” fellow Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff, who she calls ”Senator My Boo,” and others.
It’s flirty, funny, and all in good fun — even her husband’s a fan. It’s a combination of politics and cuteness, “two things I love,” she joked. She’s even followed by Warnock’s campaign, for which she raised more than $6,000 in a weekend by posting admittedly attractive photos of Dunn, who also follows her online.
“I said, ‘If people keep donating, I’ll post more hot photos of him,’ and he came into my mentions and said, ‘This is also a hot photo of me,’” said Ntini-Jacobson, who tweeted “Y’all better donate to save #Senator Bae because I got Officer Teddy Bae @libradunn [Dunn] out here posting THIRST TRAPS FOR DEMOCRACY!”
Ntini-Jacobson was delighted not only by Dunn’s participation, but what he represents. “In the aftermath of the insurrection, he didn’t seem to lose his spirits, his joy,” she said. “He has an ability to project positivity and give of himself, on the line.”
Dunn has been very open on Twitter about everything from gun violence to mental health. But it was his plainspoken response to an encounter with Ayres that first connected him and Ntini-Jacobson. The then-defendant had approached Dunn and other officers at his testimony before Congress to shake their hands, and many in the media seemed desperate to make it some full-circle Kumbaya moment of forgiveness. “An apology given and accepted,” one Twitter user captioned a photo of the two.
But Ntini-Jacobson and others, including me, saw a victim ambushed by a camera-ready bit of performative nonsense. Dunn, a tall, large Black man in uniform who had testified about the racial abuse he endured during the siege of the capitol, never rose from his chair or made eye contact with Ayres, and his intense body language told the story he could not verbally tell in that moment.
“So many people were texting me ‘Yo, don’t hit him.’ Do I forgive him [Ayres] specifically? No,” confirmed Dunn, who quote-tweeted “Apology given ...” in response — those ellipses speaking volumes. After that, he noticed Ntini-Jacobson’s support and good humor. “I knew she was always talking about ‘Boo’ and ‘Bae.’ It was funny to me! What she said was ‘You don’t owe it to them,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, you’re right. I appreciate that.”
Her good-natured combination of cute dudes and democracy — “two of my favorite things,” Ntini-Jacobson said — is rooted in a need to lighten the national political mood. A former consultant for African businesses, she became an active tweeter during the uniquely crucial 2020 election cycle, when “we were all hyper-focused on beating [then-president Donald] Trump, everyone was in a negative head space, and there was a cloud over politics.” An immigrant from South Africa, she said there was “a palpable existential fear. I would walk around with all my papers, just in case.”
But with the election of the Biden-Harris ticket, Ntini-Jacobson felt “all this euphoria, a weight lifted off” that wasn’t reflected on Twitter in general. “I made the conscious decision that my account was going to be an account of joy and celebration that supported the administration every way I could, with humor.”
She did that with Qondi, with the pop culture zeal of a K-pop or Taylor Swift fan and the democracy-boosting knowledge of the internationally politically savvy professional she is. Starting with her so-called thirst tweets about Ossoff, and then with Warnock and others, she has raised more than $31,000 for Warnock’s campaign.
Dunn, a former James Madison University football player, makes it clear that any endorsement of candidates is done as an individual and not as a representative of the Capitol Police. “I’m a normal dude. There are people who didn’t know that until Jan. 7. I’m a private person who was thrust into the public eye.”
He acknowledges that he’s been able to do some good not only because of his good acts but his good looks. “I’m completely humble about it, but I do get a little self-gratification out of it,” said Dunn, who was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President Joe Biden. “My love language is words of affirmation, so imagine me reading all that stuff! I’m like a kid in a candy store. I do like using my platform for good, and people are listening,” he said. “It says something of substance that is meaningful. I have a civic duty.”
Dunn shares the sense of duty with Ntini-Jacobson, who I interviewed as a freelancer for a Washington Post parenting story right before joining The Baltimore Banner. She wants you to know that this is all in good fun, and that while she appreciates the obvious attractiveness of the “bae tier” public servants and celebrities she fetes online, she thirsts more after justice and democracy. “It’s about how hot they are and also about the good work they do,” she said.
Dunn confirms that as much as this recognition tickles him, that good work is what inspires him, even when things get rough. He frames his job not as defending the views of the individual people who may or may not uphold that concept, he said, but of the ethics and ideals this country holds and that he swore to uphold.
“All of these people are just one person. I look at it that they are representing people who don’t have a voice,” he said. “These members? They’ll be gone. But that seat of democracy will always stay.”
And to quote Paris Hilton: That’s hot.