John Sullivan, a far-left agitator and activist who was present at the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, was arrested by the FBI on Thursday and faces multiple federal charges including “violent entry and disorderly conduct” as well as “interfering with law enforcement” for his role in the chaos.
Sullivan is the founder of Insurgence USA, a riot group created as a response to George Floyd’s death in 2020. Sullivan originally masqueraded as an independent journalist who regularly covered frenzied situations, protests, and riots, providing key videos — stamped with a watermark of one of his aliases, “Jayden X” — of the front lines, including inside the historic Capitol building.
Despite his organization’s calls for a “Kick These Fascists out of D.C.” counter-event to the “Stop the Steal” rally on the chaotic Wednesday, Sullivan claimed he was just at the Capitol to film.
“I was there to record,” Sullivan later said in a video. “I was there to let people see that situation in the best possible way.”
“There’s this narrative going around right now that Antifa was the people there causing the riots, causing the tension, they were the only people breaking into the Capitol, and I wanted to be able to tell a part of history and show that that was anything but the case,” he also told Fox News on Thursday. “It’s just recording, solely, and not being active in it.”
Sullivan continued this narrative when he joined Anderson Cooper for an interview on CNN shortly after a mob swarmed the government building. While Cooper called him a “left-wing activist” during the segment, a label that other outlets also picked up on, Sullivan, once again, portrayed himself as someone who was at the riot to document any incident and outlined how he captured the viral footage of the fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt.
“By no means am I there on the Trump side,” he said, explaining that he tried to reason with police inside the Capitol to let part of the mob through interior doors to other parts of the building. “But I don’t want to, like, to see people get hurt unnecessarily. Especially when there should be a better way to go about it.”
Despite his claims that he was at the riot to document it, Sullivan actually played a role in instigating and spurring on the chaos in the Capitol last week. In footage of the mob inside the building, Sullivan can be heard encouraging and calling for violence and destruction as well as celebrating when the people around him joined in.
“There are so many people. Let’s go. This sh-t is ours! F-ck yeah. … We accomplished this sh-t. We did this together. F-ck yeah! We are all a part of this history. … Let’s burn this sh-t down,” he said in a video.
I studied video shot by Sullivan (Jayden X) in the Capitol and compiled some moments of him zealously celebrating the invasion & instigating the mob all the way up to Ashli Babbit's shooting. Watch with audio on.
No committed BLM activist would say or do this – and he isn't one pic.twitter.com/uE5VmUf6mU
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) January 14, 2021
“We gotta burn this, we gotta get this sh-t burned,” he said in another segment of footage.
This role as an agitator is nothing new for Sullivan. Not only was he previously arrested in Provo, Utah, for inciting a riot and criminal mischief during a counter-protest where someone was shot, but Sullivan was caught on recordings from an August 2020 speech where he called for the destruction of the White House.
“We … about to burn this sh-t down,” he said. “We gotta … rip Trump right out of that office right there. We ain’t about … waiting until the next election,” he said before proceeding to chant, “It’s time for revolution.”
While Sullivan clearly has a distaste for Trump’s leadership and affiliates himself with far-left groups, some reports suggest that Sullivan is “almost universally regarded as a dangerous provocateur” on both sides of the political aisle.
“What he does is he creates hysteria, and he takes these phony videotapes of it, so that’s why he got kicked out of the movement [in Utah],” said Sullivan’s brother James Sullivan, a pro-Trump Republican who was present in D.C. on Jan. 6. “They kicked him out because he would instigate violence to the point that people would get arrested. And then he would get views on Facebook or YouTube. … He’s doing it for attention,” he continued, pointing to examples of when this sentiment was reportedly echoed by other far-left and Black Lives Matter activists.
Both Sullivan brothers are the subjects of a documentary about their staunch political differences by a woman named Jade Sacker, who can be seen celebrating the Capitol invasion in some of Sullivan’s footage.
“We did it!” she said.