Summary by JW Williams
Investigative journalist Max Blumenthal dug into the role of John Sullivan, who has been associated with Black Lives Matter and who urged Trump supporters to become violent at the Capitol last week. Blumenthal has a leftist bias and is the son of Sidney Blumenthal, a former aide to Bill Clinton, longtime confidant of Hillary Clinton. He also worked for the Clinton Foundation. He blames Trump supporters for the invasion into the Capitol while denying participation by left-wing infiltrators. Antifa and BLM rioted for months on end in 2020, resulting in the killing of more than 30 people and $2-billion in property damage. The Economist reported that donations to Black Lives Matter-related causes are over $10 billion.
Raw footage filmed by Sullivan inside the Capitol and published on his personal YouTube channel shows him in rapport with Trump supporters, even offering them his knife to get through a locked door. He urged the crowd to commit acts of violence.
Sullivan currently is in trouble in Provo, Utah, his hometown, where he is facing charges for inciting a riot and criminal mischief in July 2020 in a protest against police. He is accused of kicking vehicles, threatening motorists, and urging protesters to block traffic. A female driving an SUV was stopped by the protesters and shot by one of his associates. Blumenthal says the incident led to the formation of the Utah Citizen’s Militia and galvanized right-wing forces across the state. Days later, John organized a rally and armed militia members counter-protested across the street. John invited several members of the Proud Boys and militia activists to address his crowd, and has had other contact with the Proud Boys. Very strange behavior, indeed.
John Sullivan gravitated to Portland after the Salt Lake City chapter of BLM drove him from their community. Portland activists accused Sullivan of leaking private details of their actions through social media accounts and said he was produced inflammatory promotional material for protest events. Sullivan was then locked out of their circles.
On the day of the Capitol demonstration, the FBI questioned and detained Sullivan for an hour and a half and then released him. A critic said that Sullivan’s history of being swiftly freed from police custody was a source of longstanding suspicion for BLM activists.
John Sullivan’s Family Background
CORRECTION: The source article from The Gray Zone originally identified Kevin J. Sullivan as the adoptive father of John and James Sullivan. Their father is a retired Army Lt. Col. whose name has been withheld at the request of several acquaintances of the family.
• Major General Kevin J. Sullivan, a conservative White Mormon, adopted two Black brothers, James and John Sullivan.
• Major General Sullivan retired from the Air Force after two decades, following a reprimand for his involvement in mistakenly sending fuses for nuclear warheads to Taiwan in 2008.
• Major General Sullivan now works for Dayton Aerospace, a Pentagon consulting firm that lists Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, and L3 Technologies as its clients.
• John Sullivan is a former salesman who left his career during the summer of 2020 after winning a racial discrimination settlement.
• Sullivan has been accused by many activists of being an agent provocateur, while others have speculated that he is a law enforcement asset. He reportedly thrives on creating chaos.
• James Sullivan, said that his brother John creates hysteria, instigates violence and other people get arrested, leading to the leftist groups cutting ties with him. He said John makes “phony” videotapes of the events in order to get attention.
• Jade Sacker, a Los Angeles-based photojournalist, is making a documentary about the brothers. She was with John Sullivan in the Capitol. She has paid for some of the brothers’ expenses.
• Sacker told Blumenthal that John knew the Capitol would be stormed and had the intelligence on the plan days before the event.
• Update: Jade Sacker is linked to CNN and may have been working on a project for the leftist media outlet. She has also produced work for NPR and NBC.
• Once inside the Capitol building with the rioters, Sullivan proclaimed, “We gotta burn this, we gotta get this shit burnt.”
• James Sullivan, John’s brother, is a Black Republican, and a pro-Trump activist who helped organize the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, DC. James is affiliated with the Proud Boys.
• James Sullivan called for Black/ minority Republicans to confront Antifa at the city’s Black Lives Matter Plaza on January 6, which could have led to violence.
• James Sullivan is the founder of the Utah-based ‘Civilized Awakening’ group that supports Trump’s agenda and is a sharp critic of Black Lives Matter.
• James accused his brother of helping to organize the “riot” in the Capitol.
• James says his brother John is addicted to Adderall.
Max Blumenthal’s article at The Gray Zone:
The most dramatic footage to emerge from the far-right storming of the US Capitol on January 6 depicted the lethal shooting of Ashli Babbit, a pro-Trump activist and military veteran, by a Capitol Police officer. The man responsible for capturing that video was John Sullivan, a self-styled activist who has operated under aliases “Activist X,” “Activist John,” and “Jayden X.” Since an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who described him as a “left-wing activist,” Sullivan has become Exhibit A in the right-wing’s conspiratorial case claiming Antifa was responsible for the violence in the Capitol.
Through interviews with Sullivan, his brother, a video-journalist documenting his exploits, and Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists who have encountered him, a more unsettling portrait has emerged that stands at stark odds with the pro-Trump narrative. While Sullivan has attempted to brand himself as a BLM leader, he has been effectively locked out from activist communities across the country, where he is almost universally regarded as a dangerous provocateur.
A close review of the raw footage he shot inside the Capitol and published on his personal YouTube channel shows him enthusiastically identifying with the right-wing rioters and their objectives, volunteering to use a knife to assist them, and instigating them to commit acts of violence on all the way up to the moment of Babbit’s shooting. He has insisted to me that he has no political ideology, while associates describe him as a nihilist committed to spawning chaos above all else.
In his appearance on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, Sullivan was allowed to paper over this disturbing reality by portraying himself as an independent journalist who was merely documenting the pro-Trump mob. In the Washington Post, he was described as a “liberal activist,” while the centrist fact-checking organization Politifact referred to him as a “left-wing activist.” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes played Sullivan’s video at length during a January 8 broadcast, stating that it was “licensed from a self-described civil rights activist.”
Right-wing media has feasted on these characterizations to paint Sullivan as a leading Black Lives Matter figure, driving the narrative that the violence inside the US Capitol was the result of leftist infiltration, and not the well-coordinated pro-Trump operation it clearly was. Fox News has dedicated an entire article to Sullivan’s presence at the Capitol, describing him as an “anti-Trump activist” with close ties to Antifa and BLM.
Trump legal counsel and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani took to Twitter to highlight Sullivan’s role in the riot, calling him a “suspected BLM activist.” His post was retweeted over 28,000 times.
Despite the overwhelming presence of far-right and openly white nationalist activists in the Capitol, the right-wing has exploited Sullivan’s presence to blame the left for a catastrophe that Trump inspired. A recent Data For Progress/Vox poll showed that the right’s narrative has broken through, with 47% of Americans and 68% of Republicans holding Antifa responsible for inciting the violence in the US Capitol on January 6.
So who is John Sullivan, and what was his connection, if any, to Black Lives Matter and the wider left-wing activist community?
According to self-described BLM and anti-fascist activists familiar with the 26-year-old Sullivan, he is best known for his propensity for inspiring chaos, engaging in counterproductive tactics that often trigger arrests, and consistently undermining BLM objectives. From Salt Lake City to Portland to Washington, DC, left-wing activists consider him persona non grata.
The slick but scammy content of Sullivan’s Insurgence USA website underscores the reputation he has earned in BLM circles as a grifter. The most extensive section of his site is dedicated to hawking expensive riot gear, including a $45.95 spear tip knife. Sullivan happens to be a former salesman who left his career during the summer of 2020 after winning a racial discrimination settlement.