Lawmakers remove state legislator over Oregon Capitol breach

State Representative Mike Nearman is seen in a security video allowing protesters into the state capitol as lawmakers meet to deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Salem, Ore. – Lawmakers in Oregon on Thursday night expelled a Republican lawmaker who allowed violent, far-right protesters into the Statehouse.

Representative Mike Nearman was the first member to be expelled in the 160-year history of the House. The House voted 59-1 to remove him from the Legislature for disorderly behavior.

At an earlier hearing, Representative Paul Holvy said Nearman had let in protesters who had planned to take over the Capitol. Some were armed.

Nearman was seen in a security video opening the door to protesters on December 21 as lawmakers met in an emergency session to deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Protesters broke into the building, which was closed to the public due to coronavirus safety protocols, began assaulting police and spraying bear spray on officers.

“It is impossible to overestimate the seriousness of the reason we are here today,” Holvey said. “Rep. Nearman enabled armed, violent demonstrators to enter the Capitol, violated the security of the Capitol, which was officially closed to the public, and put authorized staff and legislators inside the building at risk Put.

Some protesters had guns. Among those gathered outside the Capitol in Salem that day were those supporting false QAnon conspiracy theories about child abductions by Democrats. He carried American flags and banners for former President Donald Trump. One signaled the arrest of Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, Holway said.

Reading a statement made to the committee, Nearman was not sorry.

Nearman said, “The fact that I exited the building and the members of the public entered the Capitol Building, a place they had a right to live in – a place where the Legislative Assembly had no right to oust them ” He said he would not answer questions on the advice of his lawyer.

On December 21, 2020, hundreds of people gave written testimony to the House Special Committee, including three Democrats and three Republicans.

Some who had certified Nearman as a traitor. Others praised him for letting people into the Capitol, saying residents should be allowed to participate, even if the hearing was livestreamed on video.

“Mike Nearman’s behavior … was abhorrent and undemocratic,” said David Alba. “Also, by aiding and supporting extremists, he has put people’s lives in danger. He should be removed from office and he does not deserve to represent my district.”

After video surfaced in local news reports Friday, Nearman choreographed how he would let protesters into the Capitol, open the door for them and reveal his cellphone number so protesters could text him, all of his house. GOP allies on Monday strongly recommended. to resign.

But Nearman’s supporters said they had elected him and that the House should not expel him. A supporter suggested that those 22 GOP lawmakers be fired.

“We see that you are compromising Republicans who have turned away from the concepts of morality, liberty and justice, to kneel before the waking crowd,” Casey Okupe said in written testimony. “May your Republican constituents show no mercy to you.”

On Monday, House Speaker Tina Kotek introduced a motion that the House would expel Nearman if two-thirds of its members voted in favor. He formed a committee to look into the matter.

Kotek credits riot police, who eventually dispersed the protesters, for preventing a full-scale attack by Trump supporters at the US Capitol on January 6. She said some were clearly injured and shaken.

Nearman has not responded to multiple requests from the Associated Press for comment. He told a conservative radio talk show that on 16 December he gave a video presentation “Was I Setting Up the 21st.” He indicated that his actions were civil disobedience as he objected to the closure of the Capitol to the public.

Nearman also faces two felony criminal charges and has said he will seek trial by jury.

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