Judge Daphne Oberg denied a prosecutor’s request to keep Utah activist John Sullivan in jail, but she agreed to release him only under conditions that include electronic monitoring and a mental health evaluation.
Sullivan was in virtual court Friday afternoon, one day after being booked at the Tooele County Jail on a warrant for allegedly participating in the rioting at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Sullivan was charged in federal court in the District of Columbia with civil disorder, being in a restricted area and disorderly conduct.
He previously told The Salt Lake Tribune that he attended the riot to document what was happening, but a government affidavit alleges he did more than just film. The affidavit says Sullivan yelled things such as “We accomplished this sh--. We did this together,” and, “We are all a part of this history. ... Let’s burn this s--- down.” He also broke a window and claimed to have a knife, according to the affidavit.
Sullivan claimed in a YouTube video that he was just trying to fit in at the riot for his own safety.
Sullivan is a former competitive speed skater and a self-proclaimed civil rights activist. His website includes a store where people can buy riot gear including a spear tip knife. He was involved with summer police brutality protests, but Black Lives Matter Utah founder Lex Scott said he has never been a part of her group. He appeared over Zoom on Friday wearing a blue medical mask and an orange-and-white shirt.
Prosecutor Bryan Reeves said he wanted Sullivan to stay in jail, saying Sullivan is a risk for obstructing justice and trying to threaten witnesses or jurors. He pointed to Sullivan’s involvement in a June 30 protest in Provo as proof that Sullivan isn’t safe to release.
Sullivan is facing charges of obstructing justice and criminal mischief for the Provo protest, where one driver was shot. Reeves said Sullivan encouraged people to block roads and kicked a car while threatening its driver. Sullivan’s attorney, Mary Corporon said that case is still pending and Sullivan is innocent until proven guilty.
Oberg said Reeves didn’t have enough evidence to even request a detention hearing.
Under Oberg’s conditions, Sullivan must be employed full-time. She clarified that his current job, working for himself through the organization he founded, Insurgence USA, doesn’t count. Oberg said he doesn’t have to shut it down but he can’t work for it right now outside of handling existing bank accounts and tax returns.
Sullivan has to surrender his passport. He must stay at home unless he is going to work, court or church and will be put under electronic surveillance. He will also receive a mental health evaluation and will have to complete any treatments that are recommended by a mental health professional. Sullivan will have to pay for that treatment and the costs of the surveillance.
Reeves said Sullivan uses social media to incite people and asked that an internet ban be added to the conditions. Corporon said banning Sullivan from going online would make it harder for him to find and keep a job. She said one of her previous clients who was banned from going online could only find a job harvesting hay. Oberg ultimately included internet monitoring as one of the conditions of release.
Oberg warned Sullivan that any violations of the conditions will “not be taken lightly” and could result in an order of detention or contempt of court prosecution. Sullivan, who will be at the court Tuesday to be processed by the U.S. Marshals Service, said he understood.