A self-styled Black Lives Matter activist who filmed himself encouraging the storming of the Capitol last week and was nearby when a police officer shot and killed a woman trying to climb through a window outside of the House speaker’s lobby was charged in federal court Thursday.
John Sullivan, the founder of Insurgence USA and a leftist protest organizer, was charged in an 18-page criminal complaint “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. He was arrested in Utah.
The woman killed by law enforcement was 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt from California, an Air Force veteran and Trump supporter. She was shot while trying to climb through a broken window as a crowd tried to break down a door in the Capitol, which was filmed and seemingly encouraged by Sullivan.
Based on cases filed so far, Sullivan appears to be the first leftist activist charged by the Justice Department, with most of those charged appearing to be vocal supporters of President Trump. FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday that more than 100 people had been arrested so far.
FBI special agent Matthew Foulger wrote that Sullivan voluntarily spoke with the FBI last week, 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 bureau 50 minutes of video he’d filmed inside the Capitol.
When Sullivan reached the speaker’s lobby, he told law enforcement officers guarding the door that “we want you to go home … I don’t want to see you get hurt.” 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 s—!” 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 opening.
Before entering the building, Sullivan filmed the crowd pushing through police barriers on the west side of the Capitol, and as Sullivan approached the Capitol with a large crowd, he said, “Let’s go. This s— is ours! F— yeah! … Let’s burn this s— down.” As he filmed the crowd attempting to scale a wall to reach the plaza just outside the Capitol entrance, he could be heard saying, “You guys are f—ing savage. Let’s go!” Sullivan can be heard telling one of the wall climbers to give Sullivan his hand to help them up.
The FBI agent said Sullivan roamed the building and can be heard on video saying that “we gotta get this s—burned” and “it’s our house motherf——.” When Sullivan encountered officers trying to prevent further mayhem, he told police that “you are putting yourself in harm’s way … the people have spoken” and “there are too many people, you gotta stand down.” The video shows Sullivan enter a Capitol office and say that “we took this s—” before breaking a window.
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 that “I have a knife — let me up” as the group breaks windows. A member of the crowd says officers are “giving us the building” as the crowd parts for officers to leave, and Sullivan says, “Haul that motherf—– out this bitch.” Video also shows Sullivan suggesting a crowd enter a closed door and encouraging them to “break that s—.”
The 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 organized 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.”
The Democratic-led House voted Wednesday to impeach Trump, with the article of impeachment accusing him of inciting an insurrection in connection to rioters breaching the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers counted electoral votes.
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