A PolitiFact article written by Bill McCarthy declares “there’s no proof that” a left-wing anti-Trump activist named John Sullivan incited rioting at the U.S. Capitol. As a result of this claim, Facebook flagged and reduced distribution of a post which accused Sullivan of doing so.
However, video footage indisputably proves that Sullivan encouraged people to storm and vandalize the Capitol. Moreover, Sullivan was subsequently arrested and charged with “violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds” and “interfering with law enforcement” during the riot. In the wake of these revelations, PolitiFact “updated” its article twice but has not changed its conclusion despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
PolitiFact’s first evidence for its conclusion is Sullivan’s claim that he was “not leading” the mob in “any shape, form, or fashion” and “was only there to experience and witness what went down.” PolitiFact then cites Jade Sacker, a photojournalist who has done work for NBC and NPR to back up his account. Sacker claims to have been with Sullivan for half of the riot and says that Sullivan was “vocal” and “actively there and interested in what was going on,” but not “directing the charge” or “inciting violence.”
However, law enforcement obtained videos from Sullivan that show him provoking and participating in the riot. As such, the FBI sought and was granted a warrant to arrest him. Per the affidavit and other video footage, Sullivan:
yelled through a megaphone outside of the Capitol, “Get in that shit! Let’s go! Let’s go! Move! Move! Move! Move! Storm that shit! This shit is ours! This is our fucking house!”
wore a “ballistic vest and gas mask” as he entered the Capitol and declared, “Let’s burn this shit down,” “We gotta get this shit burned,” “It’s our house motherfuckers.”
pointed his camera at a door and said, “Why don’t we go in there?” After someone hit the door, Sullivan said, “That’s what I’m sayin,’ break that shit.”
broke a window and said, “I broke it. My bad, my apologies. Well, they already broke a window. I didn’t know I hit it that hard. No one got that on camera.”
joined a crowd of rioters that was trying break through a door, and said, “I have a knife. Let me through. I have a knife.”