A self-styled Black Lives Matter activist found himself in the midst of the charge on Capitol Hill — although he says he was just there to document the moment and “see the truth.”
John Sullivan, founder of Insurgence USA, was detained and questioned by police on Wednesday following his participation in the unrest. Sullivan founded his group in 2020 “in response to the Gorge [sic] Floyd tragedy”, and says it is committed to “racial justice and police reform.”
“We then set out to empower and uplifting [sic] 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,” a statement on the Insurgence USA website reads. “Our mission is the unification of our nation because a people united will never be divided.”
But Sullivan’s appearance at the demonstrations meant to halt the Electoral College certification of president-elect Joe Biden’s victory was only meant to document what he believed was a pivotal moment in American history, he said in several interviews.
“For me, it’s important from the group and the people around me to see that side of things, to see the truth,” Sullivan told Utah’s Deseret News on Wednesday. “I don’t care, like, what side you’re on, you should just see it raw.”
Sullivan witnessed the death of protester Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by a Capitol security officer after attempting to enter a wing of the building where numerous lawmakers were hiding.
“There was a glass wall, and she, the woman, was the first person to actually try to get inside,” Sullivan said in a video. “All you see is hands come out the doorways with their guns. … You don’t see their face, nothing. And I literally yell at everybody else, ‘There’s a gun! There’s a gun! Don’t go in there!’ And a shot goes off. And she gets shot as soon as she goes through.”
Other footage released by Sullivan shows him encouraging others to scale the Capitol building and expressing glee when arriving in the entrance.
Sullivan did not return multiple requests for comment.
“We’re all part of this f—ing history,” Sullivan can be heard saying to another woman. “2021! f—. This is insanity. I am shook. What is this? What is this painting, you know?”
Trump Supporters Breach the Wall of police and storm the front steps of the #usacapitol #DCProtests #DC pic.twitter.com/zBY8Dj1QQN
— Jayden X (@thejaydenxander) January 8, 2021
Sullivan’s involvement in previous violent demonstrations is well documented. He currently faces two charges in Provo, Utah, his hometown, for a Black Lives Matter protest he organized in June 2020. Police say Sullivan can be seen on video “kicking vehicles and threatening drivers,” as well as knowing the identity of a gunman who shot a 60-year-old man in the elbow but never reported it.
“The protest traveled on the roadways blocking motorists who have the right of way. John Sullivan blocked vehicles from freely moving lawfully,” prosecutors wrote in their affidavit. “During the course of the protest, two handguns were brandished and two shots fired toward a motorist traveling to Home Depot. Vehicles were damaged by protestors as well as by John Sullivan.”
Footage of his demonstrations, including one in August 2020, in Washington, D.C., are often uploaded by Sullivan himself on social media. During that incident, Sullivan called on a small crowd of people to attack the White House.
“We … about to burn this shit down,” Sullivan can be seen saying. “We gotta … rip Trump right out of that office right there,” he continued, adding, “We ain’t about … waiting until the next election.” Later in the video, Sullivan begins shouting, “It’s time for revolution.”
Insurgence USA lists two events on its website, one dated on Jan. 6, called “Kick These Fascists Out of DC” and another on Jan. 23 at the Utah State Capitol to “end government control.”
“Insurgence USA is forming a rainbow coalition to unite all people under one banner to fight for liberation and freedom for all people,” one section of the group’s website reads. “How we hope to achieve this is by taking a stance against acts of inhumane violence, discrimination of any form, and political corruption. We are the revolution, lets show them the power of the people united!”
Supporters of Sullivan’s group can donate money directly to Insurgence USA on its website or its Patreon page, which bills itself as “creating a revolution.” A monthly recurring payment of $30 grants access to exclusive videos shot by Sullivan as well as “educational content” and “firearms training.”
A Discord server run by Insurgence USA welcomes members as “apart of the revolution” and are greeted by an automated message from a bot named “Antifa Strike.”
“His actions showed that the chuds can be infiltrated,” one member of the Discord server wrote on Friday, referring to Sullivan’s participation in the rioting.