Utah man arrested by FBI for alleged role in US Capitol riot

FILE PHOTO: Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump storm the Capitol building in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021 in this screen grab obtained from a social media video. Brendan Gutenschwager/via REUTERS/File Photo


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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah man John Sullivan, the founder of Insurgence USA, has been arrested for investigation of alleged crimes committed during the riot at the U.S. Capitol last week.

Tooele County jail officials said Sullivan was booked Thursday after the FBI issued a warrant for his arrest, accusing him of being in a restricted building or grounds, committing civil disorders, and involvement in violent entry or disorderly conduct.

According to the arrest affidavit, the FBI obtained a video posted to YouTube that depicted Sullivan attending the riot in Washington where he can be seen telling a crowd, "we about to burn this (expletive) down," "we got to rip Trump out of office . . . (expletive) pull him out of that (expletive) ... we ain't waiting until the next election ... we about to go get that (expletive)." The affidavit states that the video then shows Sullivan leading the crowd in a chant of, "it's time for a revolution."

The court documents state that Sullivan voluntarily met with FBI agents and told them in an interview that he had gone to the "Stop the Steal" protest at the Capitol to film. Sullivan claimed to be an activist and a journalist but admitted he didn't have any press credentials, according to the affidavit.

Sullivan also turned over video footage to the FBI which depicted the riot at the Capitol. The court documents state that some of the footage showed people breaking through police barriers, Sullivan and others climbing a wall to reach the Capitol plaza, and the death of protester Ashli Babbitt who was shot by Capitol police.

According to the FBI, Sullivan can be heard in the video saying that he has a knife and telling people to break the glass as police were on the other side. In the interview, Sulivan denied having a knife but did show police a gas mask and bulletproof vest identical to one he says he wore at the insurgence. The affidavit states that Sullivan also can be heard yelling at police, "I want you to go home!"

Sullivan gave several interviews with news organizations following the Capitol riot, in which he depicted himself as an "activist."

Social media posts show that Sullivan is seeking to organize an "armed march" at the Utah State Capitol to "end government control" this month, an event featured on Insurgence USA's website. Black Lives Matter activists have noted that the march is not calling for Black liberation or the protection of Black lives. Sullivan is reportedly banned from Black Lives Matter organizations.

Black Lives Matter Utah founder Lex Scott said that Sullivan is not associated with its chapter.

"John Sullivan is not a member of Black Lives Matter Utah, he is not a member of our chapter, he is not affiliated with our chapter. He started a group called Insurgence USA," said Scott.

Some other activists have accused Sullivan of being a provocateur. In video posted online, Sullivan claims he was trying to "blend in" because he was risking his life by joining the pro-Trump crowd.

The crimes Sullivan is now being investigated for are in addition to criminal charges he is facing from a protest he organized in Provo last June. Charging documents said that Sullivan recorded several hours of that protest and is seen in recordings "kicking vehicles and threatening drivers" and directing protesters to block intersections.


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Ashley Fredde covers human services and women's issues for KSL.com. She also enjoys reporting on arts, culture and entertainment news. She's a graduate of the University of Arizona.


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