A self-styled leftist activist and agent provocateur from Utah facing federal charges connected to the storming of the U.S. Capitol is accused of violating the terms of his release from jail while awaiting trial.
A probation officer said John Sullivan “violated the conditions of supervision,” according to a court document filed last week. This was after a federal judge allowed the 25-year-old Sullivan to be released with strict conditions despite objections from prosecutors.
Sullivan, the founder of Insurgence USA and a “revolutionary” protest organizer, was arrested in Utah after the siege of Congress on Jan. 6 and was charged in federal court in the District of Columbia. An 18-page criminal complaint says Sullivan is charged “with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and one count of interfering with law enforcement engaged in the lawful performance of their official duties incident to and during the commission of civil disorder,” according to the Justice Department. The complaint notes Sullivan wore a ballistics vest and gas mask when he entered the Capitol through a broken window and pushed past U.S. Capitol Police once inside.
Video taken by Sullivan, who claims he was present during the riot to observe what was happening, shows him following and encouraging the Trump supporters from the entrance of the Capitol all the way to the fateful moment of when 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran and Trump supporter who attempted to break into the Speaker’s Lobby of the building, was shot and killed by the U.S. Capitol Police.
Josh Cahoon, a U.S. pretrial services probation officer, said Sullivan “failed to comply” with provisions related to “limited internet access (computer and internet use, as approved)” on four separate occasions — Jan. 17, Jan. 18, Jan. 19, and Jan. 26. Magistrate Judge Daphne Oberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah set a pretrial release violation hearing for Monday.
It was not immediately clear what online actions Sullivan had taken to violate the terms of his release, but the archival website Wayback Machine shows he dramatically changed the description of his Insurgence USA group’s website in recent days.
“Insurgence USA was started in 2020 in response to the Gorge Floyd tragedy,” Sullivan’s website said on Jan. 7, the day after the Capitol siege. “The lack of care for the human life was unacceptable so we set out to end police brutality. We then set out to empower and uplifting black and indigenous voices. We want to build local powers to enable the community to intervene in violence enacted by the state and government vigilantes. Our mission is the unification of our nation because a people united will never be divided.” The website had the same description as recently as Jan. 23, but was edited to shift the group’s description away from Black Lives Matter-friendly goals to condemning groups on the left and the right.
“Insurgence USA’s mission is to provide you the truth,” Sullivan’s website now claims. “We are on the frontlines, giving you unedited raw footage, photos, and news of the insurrection here in America. Revealing the truth about Antifa and BLM’s communist plans to overthrow democracy. Exposing the sinister motives of Proud Boys and Right-Wing militias as they plot to topple the government. Welcome to the revolution.”
The website also promotes Sullivan’s legal defense fund, which says, “John Sullivan a.k.a. Jayden X was arrested as a Journalist during the Storming Of The Capitol. Help defend his 1st Amendment Rights.” He appears to have received two payments of one cent each — accompanied by messages criticizing him — raising $0.02 out of his $100,000 goal.
When joining Insurgence USA’s Discord server, the welcome message includes a prompt to donate to Sullivan’s Patreon, buy him a coffee, or send him money on Cash App or Venmo.
FBI special agent Matthew Foulger wrote Sullivan voluntarily spoke with the bureau when he “claimed to be an activist and journalist that filmed protests and riots, but admitted that he did not have any press credentials.” Sullivan sent the FBI 50 minutes of video he filmed inside the Capitol.
When Sullivan reached the speaker’s lobby, he told law enforcement officers guarding the door, “We want you to go home.” The FBI special agent said that law enforcement officers begin to exit, and members of the crowd responded by moving toward the doors, with Sullivan then yelling, “Go! Go! Get this shit!” The crowd can be seen trying to break out the glass in the entryway door windows, and his video shows Babbitt getting shot as she tried to climb through a window.
Before entering the building, Sullivan filmed the crowd pushing through police barriers, and as Sullivan approached the Capitol with a large crowd, he said, “Let’s go! This shit is ours! F— yeah! … Let’s burn this shit down.”
Five people, including Babbitt, died amid the mayhem of attack. Another was Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, died Jan. 7 “due to injuries sustained while on-duty” after he was “injured while physically engaging with protesters,” according to Capitol Police. A federal homicide investigation has been opened.
Sullivan can be seen joining a crowd trying to open doors guarded by law enforcement and telling the crowd, “I have a knife — let me up,” as the group breaks windows. A member of the crowd said officers are “giving us the building” as the crowd parts for officers to leave, and Sullivan said, “Haul that motherf—er out this b—-.”
An FBI special agent mentioned Sullivan’s participation in previous violent demonstrations. He currently faces two charges for rioting and criminal mischief in Provo, Utah, his hometown, for a Black Lives Matter protest he helped organize in June 2020. An August video shows Sullivan encouraging a group to attack the White House, saying, “We gotta … rip Trump right out of that office right there … It’s time for revolution.”
Some Black Lives Matter leaders accuse Sullivan of trying to sabotage their movement. Lex Scott, leader of the Utah chapter, described Sullivan as a “loose cannon” and said, “We do not want to be associated with” him.
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