Judge Gives Prison to Instigator Who Disagreed With Rioters

John Sullivan mostly wanted to spark violence, court finds
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2024 3:00 PM CDT
Judge Gives Prison to Instigator Who Disagreed With Rioters
Rioters are seen at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

The day of the attack on the US Capitol, John Sullivan led members of the mob into the building and filmed the death of fellow rioter Ashli Babbitt. Later, he posed as a journalist while selling the video footage to news organizations for more than $90,000. For that, Sullivan on Friday received a sentence of six years in federal prison, Politico reports. The judge said the defendant stands alone in the case for exploiting the rioters supporting Donald Trump while not "subscribing to the goals of the protest," per NBC News.

Sullivan, 29, of Utah, had expressed support for the Black Lives Matter and anti-fascism movements, prosecutors said at sentencing. Trump allies then falsely pointed to his presence on Jan. 6 as evidence that anti-Trump agitators were behind the riot. But prosecutors said Sullivan actually was pursing his own anti-government agenda and wanted to "see the government burn" and the certification of Joe Biden's election victory stopped. US District Judge Royce Lamberth called Sullivan a "chaos agent," per Politico, saying that for the defendant, "violence was an end unto itself."

In November, a jury convicted Sullivan of the felony charges of rioting and obstructing Congress' certification of the vote, plus five misdemeanors. Prosecutors said he showed up at the Capitol with a gas mask, tactical vest, megaphone, and knife, per the Washington Post. The jury saw footage in which Sullivan said he was going to make the pro-Trump mob cause destruction. "I brought my megaphone to instigate s---," he said on the video. Sullivan tearfully apologized in court for his conduct, then criticized conditions in the DC jail. He's being held in protective custody after jail officials decided his opposing political views made it too dangerous for Sullivan to be in with other Jan. 6 defendants. (More Capitol riot stories.)

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