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I heard someone recently claim that the US Capitol riots were organized by Antifa and BLM organizers to make Trump supporters look bad and turn the Republican Party against Trump. They claim that the protesters that stormed the Capitol were actually Black Lives Matter and Antifa supporters, and that this had been confirmed with facial recognition software. They also claim that the ease in which the rioters were able to enter the Capitol proves that it was an inside job.

For example, Mo Brooks wrote in a series of tweets:

Please, don’t be like #FakeNewsMedia, don’t rush to judgment on assault on Capitol. Wait for investigation. All may not be (and likely is not) what appears. Evidence growing that fascist ANTIFA orchestrated Capitol attack with clever mob control tactics. [...]

Evidence, much public, surfacing that many Capitol assaulters were fascist ANTIFAs, not Trump supporters.

Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has been making similar posting videos making similar claims on YouTube and Rumble. The videos have been deleted under Youtube policy, but can be found on his own website, in the section Censored Videos. CNN summarized:

Giuliani claimed in a tweet on Friday that has since been removed by Twitter that the Capitol siege was carried out "by groups like ANTIFA trained to riot." [...]

"We have people who invaded like Mr. Sullivan and his apparently Black Lives Matter directed group of rioters and looters and whatever else they are," Giuliani said in a Thursday episode of his podcast titled "Another FRAME UP."

I haven't been able to find any evidence that the storming of the US Capitol was organised by Antifa and BLM organisers opposed to Trump's administration.

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    Perhaps this is a question more for meta, but at what point does it cross the line from legitimate skepticism to trolling, if not deliberate misinformation to ask a question with such little factual merit? Trump's multiple invitations to his followers to come to DC are a matter of record. Why would ANTIFA organize a riot to try to overturn an election that they won? And why would Trump and his family/minions address the crowd if they didn't invite them in the first place? Does this site have a responsibility for moderating out content that seems too close to propaganda? Where is the line? – Joel Brown Jan 17 at 21:57
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    @JoelBrown The line between "propaganda" and ... whatever else your dichotomy says, is broad and gray. If we aren't willing to address "propaganda" why are we here? The fact is that this claim is notable, or at least was. Conservative pundits like Hannity and Larson mentioned it curiously, though now only flirt with it, mostly by mentioning this Sullivan character. They seem to be distancing themselves from the idea, but not altogether discrediting it. – fredsbend Jan 18 at 2:15
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    @fredsbend Thank you for your reply. I appreciate that this community exists to investigate controversial topics. I worry that social media has played a significant role in allowing hate speech to be normalized through innuendo disguised as innocent questions. Surely skepticism is about testing widely accepted claims which lack obvious evidence or which have dubious evidence. Surely it is not about checking common sense at the door. Where should moderators draw the line? What is too far here? Flat earth? Pizzagate? Anti-Semitic blood libel? – Joel Brown Jan 18 at 13:57
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    @JoelBrown: pretty related skeptics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4470/… – Fizz Jan 19 at 15:07
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    @HagenvonEitzen You're actually about the fourth person to point out the obvious oxymoron; I assume the previous comments were deleted for being "too conversational". – F1Krazy Jan 20 at 9:46
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Facial Recognition

False, this comes from a mistaken news article that has since been corrected.

A news outlet that reported that a facial recognition company identified members of Antifa among the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol has now apologised and issued a correction. Screenshots featuring the original report, however, continue to circulate on social media.

...

The Washington Times has since corrected and changed the original article (here). A correction note reads: “An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that XRVision facial recognition software identified Antifa members among rioters who stormed the Capitol Wednesday. XRVision did not identify any Antifa members. The Washington Times apologizes to XRVision for the error.”

Fact check: Facial recognition company did not identify Antifa members among Capitol mob (Reuters)

Inside Job

We're a long way from knowing the truth about this issue. Some are suggesting that GOP members of congress gave ‘Reconnaissance Tours’ of the Capitol before the riot. Snopes currently rates this claim as unproven.

So was it actually BLM/Antifa?

I am not aware of any evidence of significant BLM or Antifa presence at the riot. On the other hand, it's very clear that many that were there were genuine Trump supporters.

Steven D'Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington field office, told reporters that investigators had seen "no indication" antifa activists were disguised as Trump supporters in Wednesday's riot.

The AP found that many of the rioters had taken to social media after the November election to retweet and parrot false claims by Trump that the vote had been stolen in a vast international conspiracy. Several had openly threatened violence against Democrats and Republicans they considered insufficiently loyal to the president. During the riot, some livestreamed and posted photos of themselves at the Capitol. Afterwards, many bragged about what they had done.

Who were they? What social media, other records reveal about those who stormed Capitol (AP via ABC News)

More about those arrested:

Key arrests so far from the Capitol riot (CNN)

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – fredsbend Jan 19 at 20:13
  • There have been arrests of a few prominent members of antifa found at the Capitol riots. I don't know if they have been indited. – tuskiomi Feb 3 at 7:49
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The extent of the evidence to support the claim seems to be limited to one person who expressed anti-Trump views, who had a limited role in encouraging the storming.

According to an FBI document in UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v JOHN EARLE SULLIVAN:

[John Sullivan] is the leader of an organization called Insurgence USA" which organizes anti-Trump protests. In a July 2020 protest he said: “we about to burn this shit down,” “we got to rip Trump out of office . . . fucking pull him out of that shit . . . we ain’t waiting until the next election . . . we about to go get that motherfucker.” Sullivan lead the crowd in a chant of, “it’s time for a revolution.

Then at the Capitol storming on 6 January 2021:

Sullivan, prepared with a ballistic vest and gas mask, said outside the capitol:

There are so many people. Let’s go. This shit is ours! Fuck yeah ... We accomplished this shit. We did this together. Fuck yeah! We are all a part of this history ... Let’s burn this shit down

He physically helped people up a wall to get to the capitol.

He broke a window and entered a different broken window.

Inside the capitol he said:

We gotta get this shit burned ... it’s our house motherfuckers ... we are getting this shit

Sullivan tried to persuade the police to give up and said "Hey guys, I have a knife. I have a knife. Let me up" to try to help fight the police.


As far as I currently know, Sullivan is the only anti-Trump person who helped orchestrate the storming.

Note: The self-description of Insurgence USA is "Insurgence USA was started in 2020 in response to the Gorge Floyd tragedy. The lack of care for the human life was unacceptable so we set out to end police brutality. We then set out to empower and uplifting black and indigenous voices."

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    "who was outside of the BLM organization" While there are organizations using the name Black Lives Matter, it is not an organization. There are no members. It is a movement. – Schwern Jan 17 at 3:40
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    Somewhat related: skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/50194/… – Fizz Jan 17 at 4:30
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    Also related: skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/50195/… John Sullivan has been identified as a problem by protest groups since at least Nov 2020. – Schwern Jan 17 at 9:33
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    “As far as I currently know, Sullivan is the only anti-Trump person who helped orchestrate the storming.” Jayden X (aka: John Sullivan) did not organize or orchestrate the storming of anything. He’s a just a social remora cashing in on both sides of the coin. If you genuinely believe one person who gave someone a hand while climbing up something while tens of thousands of others were there you are a few cards short of a full deck. You are seriously implying if he wasn’t there none of this would have happened? Also, Insurgence USA has literally ONE “employee”… It’s “founder” John Sullivan. – Giacomo1968 Jan 17 at 15:39
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    @DavePhD “Maybe the woman won't have gotten shot…” Here is the approximately 40 minute video that the guy you claim to be an instigator took of the storming of the Capitol. 40 minutes uncut and first person point of view from Jayden X himself. If you watch this video and believe he was somehow a “leader” or an “instigator” you need to seriously check yourself. He is very clearly a follower at best to these events; more like an opportunist remora. And a sad scapegoat to Trump and company for the instigation they very clearly did themselves. – Giacomo1968 Jan 17 at 15:55

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