The sole left-wing activist arrested to date in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots is the same man who created an on-scene video that has helped the FBI identify and arrest Trump-aligned participants.
John Earle Sullivan, a Black Lives Matter supporter known on social media as JaydenX, filmed a Donald Trump protester using a pole to smash a glass-panel door to the Speaker’s Lobby close to the floor of the House of Representatives, where fellow protester Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed by a police officer moments later. The FBI has also used video stills, attributed to “JaydenX,” to identify others rioters, one of whom was arrested last week.
For his efforts, Mr. Sullivan has become something of a celebrity rioter. He appeared as an eyewitness that day on CNN, which bought rights to his video for $35,000 as did NBC News. He portrayed himself as a videographer/journalist.
But the FBI viewed him differently, and he was indicted on seven counts. His odd path to the heart of the Trump protest on Jan. 6 — he closed one harshly anti-Trump social media post days before the riot with the hashtag “#Antifa” — is one of the primary mysteries of the day.
He has a history of promoting violence, according to court filings. On his Capitol video, he can be heard urging invaders to burn the Capitol. At an August Black Lives Matter protest in Washington, he urged the crowd to pull President Trump from the White House. And at a George Floyd protest near his Provo, Utah, home in June, he threatened to assault a woman driver while blocking traffic and associating with a gunman, according to a police affidavit reviewed by The Washington Times.
In the Speaker’s Lobby/Babbitt shooting scene, an aggressive crowd gathered to try to bust through the door. Mr. Trump had pumped up protesters in a “Stop the Steal” speech by making unproven claims about thousands of votes being stolen from him and given to now-President Biden.
An FBI affidavit relied heavily on Mr. Sullivan’s video to describe the scene, including accounts of one rioter repeatedly punching the door’s glass as lawmakers and staff can be seen evacuating and another man “wearing a red hooded jacket and a gray skullcap starts striking the door’s glass panels with what appears to be a long, wood flagpole.” The affidavit contains still shots with the name “JaydenX” imprinted on each to convey who made the film.
The man punching the door glass turned out to be Chad Jones of Kentucky. A “family member” pointed him out to the FBI, the court document says, and he was arrested on a series of rioting charges.
Another Speaker’s Lobby eyewitness was also arrested based on JaydenX video. Thomas Baranyi of New Jersey faces trespassing and rioting counts.
Last week, Jeffrey Register of Florida turned himself in. Like Mr. Jones and Mr. Baranyi, it was the JaydenX video that provided the critical video evidence, according to clips attached to his FBI affidavit. Law enforcement used the video to track Mr. Register as he entered through a broken window, ignored police warnings and moved around the Capitol.
The affidavit author is not a bureau agent, but a deportation officer from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement delegated to the FBI’s Northeast Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force.
A Washington Times review of hundreds of arrest affidavits shows that all the rioters are depicted by law enforcement as Trump backers, except one — John Sullivan. He has had a busy last 12 months.
Mr. Sullivan, 26, and his group, Insurgence USA, organized an unlicensed George Floyd protest in Provo on June 29. Mr. Sullivan went on Facebook Live to urge protesters to block motorists downtown.
Examining protests videos, a Provo police official later wrote that Mr. Sullivan took an active role in the protest, kicking at passing vehicles and issuing obscene threats to passengers. The affidavit said he led the protest alongside a colleague who carried a handgun and used it to fire shots and wound a motorist.
Police charge Mr. Sullivan with rioting, criminal mischief and violent threats. No trial date has been set. He is scheduled for a pre-trial judicial review in August.
Weeks after the Provo demonstration, Mr. Sullivan was in D.C. for a Black Lives Matter rally, again capured on video using obscene language and exhorting the crowd to “drag” President Trump out of his office.
He next came to Washington Jan. 6, for Mr. Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally against the election results. As a lead-up, Mr. Sullivan actively recruited followers to show up. “We need numbers to show up No fascist in DC—March against Fascism spread the word Comrades.” He added the hashtags, “F— Trump” and “Antifa.”
On Jan. 2, he posted a distorted Trump photo on Twitter and said, “Time to kick this fascist out of DC on January 6, 2020 (sic). Trump is not our president dump him.” His Insurgence USA website provided a location for his followers to meet around the Washington Monument at 11 a.m.
But at the Capitol, Mr. Sullivan dressed as a Trump supporter and can be seen in video on a balcony urging the crowd to invade the Capitol.
The FBI used Mr. Sullivan’s video, stamped “JaydenX,” to incriminate him. Mr. Sullivan, who was indicted in February and has been released with restrictions on his social media activities, is scheduled for a case review on May 26 in U.S. District Court in Washington.