“We do not want to be associated with John Sullivan,” Lex Scott, the founder of Black Lives Matter Utah, told Fox News.
Sullivan was charged last week with being on restricted grounds, civil disorder, violent entry, and disorderly conduct after he admitted to being inside the Capitol while protesters stormed the building.
Sullivan has repeatedly posted online about Black Lives Matter, expressing support for the movement. He founded a group called Insurgence USA, whose website says its founding was spurred by the death of George Floyd, a rallying point for Black Lives Matter, and advocates against police brutality, another point in alignment with the so-called racial justice movement. Sullivan is “one of the few black men organizing for racial justice in Utah,” his personal website says.
Scott sought to distance Black Lives Matter from Sullivan. She said he never joined the Utah chapter, attended a meeting, or helped with its mission.
“He seems like he’s kind of a loose cannon. So we’ve just been distancing ourselves from him—but he’s like this thorn in my side that won’t go away,” she said. “John is a new activist. He got here in June, because a lot of bandwagon trendy people came in.”
Black Lives Matter was founded in 2013 by self-described Marxist activists who were angered by the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin. Hundreds of Black Lives Matter demonstrations have involved violence.
Local chapters are run separately from the national movement. Scott said the Utah chapter makes members sign contracts promising not to incite violence or destroy property.
Video footage from the Capitol showed Sullivan calling to burn the Capitol down as he entered the building with dozens of others on Jan. 6. He told The Epoch Times that he took steps to blend in with protesters supporting President Donald Trump because he has a reputation of being an anti-fascist, or a member of the far-left, anarcho-communist network Antifa. Black Lives Matter and Antifa often participate in events together.
Antifa activists also have attempted to distance themselves from Sullivan, calling him a “likely infiltrator.”
Sullivan on Jan. 6 also urged U.S. Capitol Police officers to leave their posts, telling them they would be hurt if they didn’t. He was near Ashley Babbitt (also spelt Ashli), a pro-Trump Air Force veteran, when she was shot dead while trying to climb into the Speaker’s Lobby.
Sullivan, who was wearing a ballistic vest and a gas mask and entered the Capitol through a broken window, described himself as armed at one point during the mayhem, according to court filings. He has claimed to be an independent journalist, although he lacked press credentials, the FBI said. Sullivan was released without bail on Jan. 15.
Petr Svab contributed to this report.