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Utah activist charged in Capitol riot 'thrives on chaos,' prosecutors say

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John Sullivan (Tooele County Sheriff's Office)

A Utah activist who faces federal charges in connection to the Capitol riot made his first appearance in court Friday afternoon.

John Earle Sullivan, 25, appeared before Magistrate Judge Daphne A. Oberg and was advised that prosecutors intend to try his case in the District of Columbia.

Prosecutors asked that Sullivan be held in jail before trial, arguing that he uses social media to incite riots and "thrives on chaos."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Reeves said Sullivan poses as members of protest groups online and cited video evidence of Sullivan engaging in violent protests.

Despite prosecutors’ objections, Judge Oberg determined the threshold was not met to keep Sullivan in jail while his case proceeds and he is expected to be released from jail with conditions.

The U.S. Attorney in Washington D.C. charged Sullivan earlier this week with three counts: knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority, violent entry or disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and interfering with law enforcement.

Sullivan spoke with 2News on January 6, claiming he entered the Capitol through a broken window to document the event.

Federal prosecutors, however allege that Sullivan’s videos show him saying things like "this [expletive] is ours" and "let’s burn this [expletive] down."

Sullivan also filmed video which he shared with media outlets showing the shooting of protester Ashli Babbit.

Sullivan identifies himself as an activist and founded Insurgence USA, which organized racial justice protests in Utah in 2020. Sullivan has been known for having an armed presence at protests in Utah.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City indicated that because Sullivan was charged in the District of Columbia, it is anticipated that his case will be handled there. It was not immediately clear when Sullivan would appear in the District Court in Washington D.C.

Judge Oberg released Sullivan from jail with the following conditions:

  • Maintain or actively seek verifiable full-time employment as approved by pretrial officer
  • Abide by restrictions on place of living and travel
  • Maintain residence and do not change without permission
  • Not to travel outside the state of Utah without permission
  • Not to travel outside the U.S. without approval
  • Not associate with victim, witness, or co-defendant in the case
  • Report to pre-trial officer
  • Prohibited from possessing any weapons
  • Undergo a mental health evaluation
  • Have a GPS monitor
  • Detained at home, restricted to home expect for employment, religious service, medical treatment, and other court-approved activities
  • Extensive monitoring of his social media and online activity
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