‘BLM Activist’ John Sullivan/JaydenX, Explained

On January 15 2021 Breitbart published an item titled “Leftist Activist Among Those Arrested in Capitol Riot,” asserting “Utah-based left-wing activist” John Sullivan (also known as JaydenX) had been arrested in connection with the storming of the Capitol on January 6 2021:

While Sullivan claims he attended last week’s “Stop the Steal” march [on January 6 2021] as a journalist, the affidavit signed by FBI Special Agent Matthew Foulger says otherwise. The criminal complaint reads:

At various times, Sullivan has claimed to be a journalist. He has admitted, however, that he has no press credentials and the investigation has not revealed any connection between Sullivan and any journalistic organizations.

In the affidavit, Foulger goes on to detail videos — that Sullivan provided to the FBI — in which the left-wing activist can allegedly be heard encouraging protesters inside and around the Capitol Building.

The @USMarshalsHQ account tweeted a Fox News article making similar claims on January 15 2021 (in contrast with a neutral press release issued by the Department of Justice on January 14 2021):

The UK tabloid The Sun also reported on Sullivan’s arrest, with a headline reading “MOB AGITATOR? BLM activist John Sullivan at Capitol riot ARRESTED after shouting ‘it’s our house’ and ‘we got to BURN this s***’”:

A BLACK Lives Matter activist has been arrested after a video revealed he shouted “it’s our house” and “we got to get this s**t burned.”

John Sullivan, who was charged by the FBI, can allegedly be heard egging the pro-Donald Trump rioters on in footage he filmed of the attack.

As did Newsweek, in “Who is John Sullivan? Left-wing Activist Charged in Capitol Riot”:

A left-wing activist who openly documented and discussed his involvement in the pro-Donald Trump rally which turned into an insurrection at the Capitol is now facing criminal charges.

John Sullivan, 26, founder of protest group Insurgence USA, recorded himself entering through a Capitol window that had been broken out by the rioters before roaming the halls of Congress during the January 6 [2021] attack.

Sullivan, of Utah, told authorities that he was in Washington D.C. that day as an activist and journalist who was recording the events, but admitted he did not have any press credentials.

And Politico:

A liberal activist from Utah was arrested on Thursday [January 14 2021] on federal charges that he took part in the riot at the Capitol [on January 6 2021].

John Sullivan, 26, founder of a protest group called Insurgence USA, was charged in a criminal complaint with one felony count of interfering with law enforcement in connection with a civil disorder, as well as misdemeanor charges of unlawful entry and disorderly conduct.

On TheDonald.win, a screenshot from a deleted tweet by Rudy Giuliani was shared alongside a post with the headline, “Giuliani: The riots had nothing to do with the Trump speech. They were organized before speech and carried out on their own by groups like ANTIFA trained to riot. (text from James Sullivan, John’s brother)”.

News organizations typically described Sullivan as a “liberal activist” and founder of a group called Insurgence USA, which appeared to consist solely of a website, which many readers observed appeared to have been hastily cobbled together. Its Google preview and “About” page read:

Insurgence USA was started in 2020 in response to the Gorge Floyd tragedy. The lack of care for the human life was unacceptable so we set out to end police brutality. We then set out to empower and uplifting black and indigenous voices. We want to build local powers to enable the community to intervene in violence enacted by the state and government vigilantes. Our mission is the unification of our nation because a people united will never be divided.

Other sources did a little more digging, finding evidence that the narrative was not as straightforward as it seemed, such as media and disinformation expert Joan Donovan:

A January 14 2021 article from The Intercept observed that “Sullivan’s ideology and tactics do seem to be in almost constant flux,” and reported, in part:

Before Sullivan was arrested on Thursday [January 14 2021], The Intercept conducted a careful review of his video of the raid and traced the contours of the heated debate over his true motives for being there that has played out over the past week in right-wing media and among left-wing activists on social networks. Here is that investigation.

THOSE OF US in the reality-based community know who stormed the Capitol in Washington last week [January 6 2021] on live television and in broad daylight. They were Trump cultists, who helpfully documented their insurrection in Facebook livestreams, Parler videos, and Instagram selfies.


The lie that Trump supporters were not to blame for their attack on the U.S. government is part of a desperate effort by the president’s enablers to deflect attention away from his responsibility for inciting a deadly riot — during which the mob killed a police officer by hurling a fire extinguisher at his head, one rioter was fatally shot by the police while storming a barricade, and another, carrying a Gadsden flag, was trampled to death.

Unable to find actual evidence that the pro-Trump hooligans who broke into the Capitol and assaulted the police were left-wing provocateurs, the right-wing mythmakers have seized instead on the incidental presence on the riot’s front lines of a single anti-Trump activist, a Black man from Utah who recorded his “adventure” on video.

But while it is true that Sullivan, the Utahn — a former elite speed skater, Uber driver and cybersecurity salesman who reinvented himself as a self-described Black liberation activist last year — did witness the shooting of Ashli Babbitt, the QAnon adherent killed trying to break into the House chamber, and filmed the gunshot from close range, there is no evidence that he orchestrated that violent confrontation, or any other.

We know this because Sullivan, who began calling himself “Activist John” last summer when he organized a chaotic protest for racial justice that led Black Lives Matter Utah to denounce him, filmed almost every step he took inside the Capitol on his phone and posted the unedited footage on his JaydenX YouTube channel.

Perhaps the most widely shared information about Sullivan, which was dated and time-stamped, was a November 26 2020 Twitter thread published by @rebellionbaby. Framed as a “community alert,” the thread described John Sullivan (“or ‘Activist John'”) as a “likely infiltrator/agent provocateur”:

In subsequent tweets, @rebellionbaby added:

John has been kicked from the #SaltLakeCity and #Portland protest scenes due to alarming behaviors including grifting/profiteering, self-promotion/clout chasing, sabotage of community actions, threats of violence, and — maybe most disturbingly — ties to the far-right. (2/23)

In short — John’s brother, James, is the co-founder of a pro-Trump org called “Civilized Awakening,” and has strong ties to Proud Boys — even having spoken at a Proud Boy rally. The brothers’ polarized political stances conveniently bolster the other’s public personas. (3/23)

Activists in these cities recommend that he be barred from community actions and totally avoided. Social media accounts claiming to be “Seattle-based” yet aligning with John’s MO have been popping up and interacting with existing local protest groups in the past few days. (4/23)

From there, the thread included several community alerts about Sullivan:

Threads on Reddit’s r/conspiracy about his arrest quickly tagged Sullivan as suspicious, referencing discussions about him from before the January 6 2021 insurrection attempt:

He has many connection to alt-right personas and his brother is running “Civilized Awakening” some pro-trump group with proud boys ties, he seems to have faked protest videos where he was the only protester seen in the video and the counter protesters that was harassing him in the vid has been identified as members of his brothers group making it very likely to be staged by him and his brother.

They are probably just a pair of grifters that are playing both sides to cash in on youtube and merch etc.

edit: And this is info from last year, so well before the capitol things, its not stuff that’s been put online after the fact.

A December 30 2020 thread from @blackhousenew also claimed that Sullivan was “organizing Black republicans” to storm the Capitol:

As for InsurgenceUSA.com, that site was created around September 21 2020; a footer on the live version of the site misleadingly reads “Copyright © 2015.”

On January 15 2021, the arrest of John Sullivan (or JaydenX or “Activist John”) spread virally, predictably used to fuel claims that individuals affiliated with Black Lives Matter or anti-fascists “incited” the Capitol insurrection on January 6 2021 (despite the abundance of proof that this was a pro-Trump riot.) The individual was already a subject of community bulletins months before, advising that Sullivan was a “grifter,” an “agent provocateur,” and an “infiltrator” to be avoided.

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