John Earle Sullivan, a far-left agitator who was present at the Capitol riots on Jan. 6 and recorded a woman’s death at the hands of police, was released from jail on Friday without bail, according to Fox News.
According to Utah District Magistrate Judge Daphne Oberg, the motion for Sullivan’s detention was denied because it didn’t meet the court’s threshold for a hearing. Prosecutors had asked for Sullivan to be retained in jail at least until inauguration day.
Democrats including President-elect Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have called the rioters “domestic terrorists” engaged in “sedition,” crimes that can carry the death penalty. Based on these claims, the U.S. capitol has been infused with some 20,000 U.S. troops in advance of Biden’s inauguration Tuesday.
Federal judges have denied bail to others who took part in the Jan. 6 chaos. Not Oberg.
“The court orders John Earle Sullivan’s release, in this case, based on a finding that the government did not establish a basis to hold a detention hearing…Because the court finds the threshold conditions under § 3142(f) have not been met, it cannot hold a detention hearing and, thus, cannot detain the defendant,” Oberg wrote.
Despite prosecutors’ concerns that Sullivan “thrives on chaos” and could inflict further damage to the community if let go, the judge released him after he appeared in a virtual court hearing from jail. Oberg stated the government did not demonstrate that Sullivan poses “a serious risk that such person will obstruct or…attempt to obstruct justice, or threaten, injure, or intimidate, or attempt to threaten, injure, or intimidate, a prospective witness or juror.”
The U.S. Department of Justice complaint against Sullivan “alleges that during the events at the U.S. Capitol, Sullivan, wearing a ballistics vest and gas mask, entered the U.S. Capitol through a window that had been broken out, pushing past U.S. Capitol Police once inside. The Complaint also alleges that Sullivan admits to filming and being depicted in video footage that shows him present, outside of the Speaker’s Lobby within the U.S. Capitol, at the shooting of a woman by a U.S. Capitol Police officer.”
The federal judge ordered Sullivan to stay home, avoid protests of any kind, stay off social media, stop working for his activist group, surrender his passport, and prohibited him from having any weapons. The left-wing activist will also be subjected to a mental health evaluation and is forbidden from talking with anyone involved in the case including witnesses and co-defendants.
Sullivan was first arrested by the FBI on Thursday, facing multiple federal charges including “violent entry and disorderly conduct” as well as “interfering with law enforcement” for his role in the Capitol chaos. Sullivan was interviewed on CNN by Anderson Cooper in the wake of the Jan. 6 violence, where he claimed to “document” the riots but did not disclose his participation in the capitol ransacking. He is also facing violence and rioting charges for his activities during a Black Lives Matter event earlier in 2020, according to Rolling Stone.
The founder of Insurgence USA, a riot group created as a response to George Floyd’s death in 2020, Sullivan originally masqueraded at the riot as an independent journalist who regularly covered frenzied situations, protests, and riots, providing key videos — stamped with a watermark of one of his aliases, “Jayden X” — of the front lines, including inside the historic Capitol building.
“I was there to record,” Sullivan later said in a video. “I was there to let people see that situation in the best possible way.”
Despite his claims that he was at the riot to document it, Sullivan appears to have actively provoked rioters during the mayhem, encouraging and calling for violence and destruction as well as celebrating when the people around him joined in.
“There are so many people. Let’s go. This sh-t is ours! F-ck yeah. … We accomplished this sh-t. We did this together. F-ck yeah! We are all a part of this history. … Let’s burn this sh-t down,” he said in one video.
According to the affidavit in Sullivan’s case, he also wore “a ballistic vest and gas mask” during the riot inside the Capitol, where he entered through a shattered window.
The FBI has reportedly arrested a different leftist protester who planned violence against Trump supporters at the Florida state capitol.