John Earl Sullivan made his first appearance in federal court in Utah on Friday on charges of participating in violent riots in the US Capitol.
There is not much question he attended. He filmed it and posted it on social media – including footage of a woman being shot by the Capitol police trying to crawl through a smash window – then posted a later video describing the experience did.
The real question, in my mind, is: what was he doing there?
Trying to answer that Big Question sent me down a rabbit hole of contradictions.
Let’s start with the basics: Sullivan was raised in a military family. His father was a lieutenant colonel, a devout believer of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who raised his boys in an orthodox household and taught them to love the Constitution, said his brother, James, in Happy Hour’s Podcast Week ( Later on James).
John worked as a successful salesman, his brother said, making over $ 200,000 in a few years. He paid cash for a Mercedes and was building a house in Sandy, when his political views were radicalized.
James Sullivan said, “He was doing amazing things with his life and he said that capitalism is a cancer for black society, when capitalism really made him build a Mercedes and a home”.
In June 2020, John attended his first Black Lives Matter event, according to Lex Scott, founder of the group’s Utah chapter. No one had seen him before or knew who he was. Sullivan also started his own group Insurgence USA in response to the assassination of George Floyd and organized their first protests in Provo.
“His first protest that he held was a bullet,” she said.
Police say the protesters blocked an SUV that was being attempted to turn when one of the protesters fired a round from the window, killing the driver in the arm. Sullivan was arrested a few days later, charged with assault, violence and criminal intimidation. Documents state that Sullivan was with the shooter most of the day and did nothing to stop the act.
But Scott said he did something that was “just a big no-no.”
“In his second protest he invited the proud boys on stage, he invited the militias on stage and said, ‘We want to work with you, we want to befriend you,” Scott said. “This is when he has been officially blackballed by the activist community.”
Scott said Sullivan never attended any of the BLM meetings, never worked on any of his initiatives, never helped with him for police reform.
“This man is a cloth-chaser, someone who is here only for fame or money or someone who simply needs attention,” he said. “He is a thorn in my side.”
In addition to disappearing from the events of Black Lives Matters in Utah and being isolated by groups in other cities, he is also accused of profiting from the cause.
On his extremism website, he has worn a face covering, gas mask, bullet-proof vests, spear knives, T-shirts and jogging pants. And he constantly promotes himself on a network of social media accounts.
But how did he not end up among a group of Trump supporters who looted the Capitol, but actually rode the crest of the wave?
Sullivan said in a video recorded after the riots that he does not support Trump or President-Elect Joe Biden. He is not with BLM or Antifa. But he knew that based on social media posts, there would be an attempt to overthrow the Capitol and he wanted to do the film transpired like a citizen journalist.
“Was I an agent provocateur?” Was I there to invite violence? I can tell you that no, ”Sullivan said in the video. “I was there to document events and be a part of history.”
But he did more than just document it. In one video he can be heard shouting, “Let’s go!” This s *** belongs to us! … we completed this ***! We did it together … let’s burn this S! “
He is seen climbing through a broken window, he faces law enforcement and tells them to go home, then enters an office and – it appears and federal charges against him – to a window Broke while looking at the plaza.
Eventually he and the mob arrive at the door in the speaker’s lobby, where he tries to climb through a broken window before being shot by a police officer. Sullivan later shared the video with news outlets and as of Friday it was viewed more than 18,000 times.
His involvement in the riot is seen as evidence by Trump backers that the incidents were instigated by leftist infiltrators. Chief among them is Sullivan’s brother James.
James Sullivan launched a civilized awakening that aligns with the “Patriot Movement” and is certainly a Trump supporter. He spent 90 minutes on the Horl’s Happy Hour podcast exchanging right-wing grievances with the hosts, claiming that his brother was “motivated by radical socialist ideology.”
He said, “The way I have shown him the way out is to go to jail to be completely honest. He will not stop. He will not listen to anyone, ”James Sullivan said. He said, “He is so unsymmetrical, he is devoid of logic.”
The two brothers are the subjects of a documentary in the works and, after not speaking in months, were placed in the same room for filming. The producer asked John what he would do if James was stabbed and had a call. Will he call an ambulance? James said that John’s response was, “I’ll step on his face and let him bleed.”
At the end of the day, I’m not sure that any of this gets us closer to understanding Sullivan’s intentions. He impresses me more as a thirst for anarchy and violence than a chaotic philosophy or agenda.
“He incited violence,” his brother said, “people were hurt, and he stood back and saw it on camera.”
But on some level, it does not matter. Antifa said that the notion that good people do bad things is very absurd. All those who participate in the capital riot are responsible for their actions and should be held responsible.
Hopefully the same goes for them – and John Sullivan.