Anti-Trump activist admits he was in Capitol as journalist during riot

Utah activist is founder of racial justice group.

Published: January 8, 2021 1:40pm

Updated: January 8, 2021 5:41pm

An anti-Trump activist has admitted that he was present in the U.S. Capitol during the recent riot there, claiming he was covering the event as an independent journalist. 

The activist, John Sullivan, was also charged in Utah last year in connection with a counter-protest he organized in which an individual was shot.

Sullivan has been the subject of media scrutiny over the past two days due to his having been identified during the deadly Capitol riot spun off from a nearby pro-Trump rally; the activist can be seen in video footage depicting the shooting death of a female protester by Capitol police. 

Sullivan told Just the News that he was "specifically just there to be a journalist, just to record the events that were going down.”

He confirmed that he is an independent journalist and not affiliated with any outlet. 

Sullivan had earlier scheduled an anti-Trump event that took place just hours before the violent protests.

The website of Sullivan's racial justice group Insurgence USA lists an event tilted "Dump Trump for Good" that was scheduled to take place on Wednesday, Jan. 6, the same day as the riot, at 11:00 a.m. 

The event listing on the Insurgence website identifies it as taking place at the Washington Monument, which is located just several minutes' walk from the U.S. Capitol. But Sullivan claimed to Just the News that the event was actually a digital undertaking. 

"This was not a counter-protest," he said. "This was more like an online forum." Activists, he said, were calling area hotels as a counter-measure against what Sullivan said was the danger of violence from the pro-Trump protesters. 

Asked for clarification, Sullivan said his group was trying to either get hotels to "shut down" to force out Trump supporters, or at the very least force them to follow COVID-19 masking guidelines. 

Asked how he gained access to the Capitol, Sullivan said that he "climbed straight through a window that people had smashed." Sullivan has already uploaded the full footage of his recording to YouTube, including of when the woman was shot.

In June, Sullivan was arrested in Provo, Utah, on various charges related to a counter-protest he helped organize; during those demonstrations, one man was shot. Sullivan on Friday did not immediately respond to followup questions regarding the status of those charges. 

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