John Sullivan, an activist who supports Black Lives Matter and opposes President Donald Trump, was released conditionally without bail on Friday after he was arrested and charged for his alleged activities at the U.S. Capitol amid the breach of the building on Jan. 6.
The Department of Justice on Jan. 14 announced that Sullivan, 27, was arrested on the same day in Utah and charged with being on restricted grounds without authority, violent entry and disorderly conduct, and interfering with law enforcement.
Sullivan made his first appearance in court via a virtual hearing in Salt Lake City on Jan. 15. Magistrate Judge Daphne A. Oberg of the United States District Court for the District of Utah said that the DOJ did not meet the legal threshold to get a detention hearing, reported Inner City Press, noting that the DOJ did not file a detention memo.
“We seek detention, but we want 3 days,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Reeves at the hearing, according to the outlet.
“First you have to meet the threshold for a detention hearing,” Oberg said.
The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sullivan was released under the condition that he surrenders his passport, wears a GPS monitor, undergoes a mental health check, and remains home unless for court-approved activities—including work, religious services, and medical treatment.
Sullivan is also prohibited from possessing firearms. He also has to maintain or seek full-time employment and stop working for Insurgence USA, an activist group he founded, although he doesn’t have to surrender control of the group. The group calls itself anti-fascist and opposes police brutality.
Defense attorney Mary Corporon said that he “will obtain more traditional employment working for a third party.”
“He will not dissolve it [Insurgents USA]. But no employment there. No Internet is a problem. The only job he could get is on a farm, like another client. He’ll need a smartphone to get a job. That is not an appropriate restriction,” Corporon told the judge. She also added, “Not all of his First Amendment rights should be taken from him.”
Oberg ordered that Sullivan remain off social media before his pretrial and be put under strict internet monitoring. She also said that any violation of the bail conditions would “not be taken lightly,” reported Deseret News.
Reeves had argued that Sullivan should remain in custody until the legal case resolves, alleging that Sullivan “thrives at inciting chaos,” the outlet reported. Reeves also noted reports of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitols and in Washington ahead of Jan. 20 as among reasons to keep Sullivan behind bars.
Sullivan was charged by complaint. Prosecutors allege that he entered the U.S. Capitol through a window, pushed past Capitol police once inside, and admitted 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 woman was identified as Ashley Babbitt (also spelt Ashli), an Air Force veteran.
Four more deaths, which took place outside of the building, were linked to the chaos on Jan. 6 on Capitol grounds. Three of them were due to medical reasons, with one man dying of a heart attack and another of a stroke, and one woman was crushed by the crowd, several media reported. A Capitol police officer, Brian Sicknick, died the following day because he was “injured while physically engaging with protesters,” Capitol Police said.
Sullivan, who uses the moniker “Jayden X” online, previously said on Twitter that he was only there to report the events and tried to “blend in,” although a video that he published online shows him encouraging intruders and convincing police officers to let them through during several impasses.
He said in an interview with the Rolling Stone published on Jan. 13 that he was trying to build trust among the people he was filming. “I had to relate to these people, and build trust in the short amount of time I had there to get where I need to go,” he told the magazine.
A separate video clip he filmed showed he was near a female videographer, who at one point turned to Sullivan and said: “Let me give you a hug now. We did it. You were right. We did it.”
“Dude, I was trying to tell you. I couldn’t say much,” he replies.
The woman also says, “You aren’t recording, right?”
“I’ll delete that [expletive] up,” he replies. “But I didn’t record you, I mean.”
He told The Epoch Times that he was referring to plans for storming the Capitol he saw on “underground chats and things like that.” He posted information about the plans on his social media, but didn’t inform law enforcement. “I’m not a snitch,” he said in a phone call.
Petr Svab contributed to this report.