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Oregon legislature that allowed far-right protesters into the Capitol accused of criminal behavior

Video recorded from multiple angles reveals more about how rep. Mike Nearman made it possible for protesters to enter the Oregon Capitol illegally.

An Oregon lawmaker who allowed violent right-wing extremist protesters to enter the Capitol during a special session on Dec. 21

was criminally charged on Friday with first-degree misdemeanor and second-degree felony.

Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence, was caught on security videos opening a door and letting protesters enter the building. He had been under investigation since at least January to enable the violation.

Nearman is scheduled to appear in court to be charged on May 11. His lawyer, Jason Short, could not be immediately reached for comment.

The first-degree official negligence charge is for allegedly deliberately taking steps that constituted an unauthorized exercise of his official duties for the benefit of another, according to the court filing. The second charge is for allegedly giving another person access to and remaining in the Capitol.

The indictment was signed and filed in Marion County Circuit Court on Friday.

Oregon’s Capitol has been closed to the public for the past year due to the pandemic. On Dec. 21, lawmakers were in the building for the third special session of 2020, which Government Kate Brown called for expanding the state eviction moratorium, setting up a relief fund for landlords and passing wildfires and COVID-19-related funding.

When the legislators of the House discussed the rules of the daily procedure around noon. At 8.30am, Nearman left the chamber and left a door near where right-wing protesters had gathered to protest the state’s coronavirus restrictions. Protesters, including some carrying rifles, were circulating outside the north side of the Capitol, and a man with a large flag was waiting right outside the door that Nearman opened, according to security footage obtained by The Oregonian / OregonLive through a request for public records. Nearman went out and walked around the man with the flag without doing anything to prevent him from entering the Capitol.

Surveillance video showed that when Nearman allowed protesters in the northwestern Capitol vestibule, the group collided with Oregon State Police and Salem police trying to keep them out of the building. Protesters tried to push past police, who rushed to push the original rebels out and physically block the door until Nearman had just opened.

But after protesters sprayed police with a drug allegedly pepper spray, largely white audiences, including a number of elderly people and a dog, managed to push themselves into the lobby. Oregon State Police and Salem police contained the outrageous crowd, some armed with cannons, to a vestibule of the Capitol and eventually removed them from the building. At least two men alleged to be part of this breach have since been arrested on related charges, and additional protesters were arrested in connection with other acts later that day.

Earlier this year, House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, called on Nearman to resign because his actions “put any person in the Capitol in grave danger,” and Kotek joined several other lawmakers to file a formal complaint about conduct. to the legislative action allegation of Nearman’s actions created a hostile working environment. And on Friday after the announcement that Nearman would be prosecuted, Oregon House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner also called for Nearman’s resignation.

“Nearman should have withdrawn in January, the moment security footage confirmed his involvement and assistance in the attack,” Smith Warner said in a statement. “Given today’s charges, it is clear he has to go. I urge every one of my colleagues in every election rally to call this what it is and, with me, demand that Nearman resign immediately. ”

Republicans said at the time that they withheld the verdict while waiting to hear the results of the Oregon State Police investigation and the investigation conducted for the Legislature, which appears to be underway.

–Hillary Borrud

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