Ore. Lawmaker Told to 'Resign' After Video Shows Him Letting Rioters Inside State Capitol in Dec.
Republican state representative Mike Nearman has been billed for damages to the Oregon Capitol caused by a group of anti-mask and armed demonstrators in December, after security footage showed that the lawmaker opened the door to allow the group inside.
Nearman, who has since been removed from his legislative committees and had his own access to the state Capitol restricted, has now been asked to resign by the state's top House lawmaker.
The incident occurred during a Dec. 21 special legislative session at the state Capitol in Salem, when a group gathered to protest the state's coronavirus restrictions.
Though the state's Capitol building was locked, deterring the group from entering, security footage from that day shows Nearman walking to an exit and opening the door, allowing a large number of rioters to begin streaming inside.
After that video went public, Nearman's fellow lawmakers moved to strip him of his committee assignments and fine him $2,000 for the damage caused by those who entered.
In a statement issued Monday, Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek called for Nearman to resign, saying his actions "put every person in the Capitol in serious danger."
"As we tragically saw last week during the insurrection at the United Sates Capitol, the consequences could have been much worse had law enforcement not stepped in so quickly," Kotek's statement read. "His actions have created immense fear among legislators and Capitol staff. I believe he should resign immediately because he has already breached the public trust and endangered our ability to safely conduct the people's business."
Kotek added that she and other House members were filing a formal conduct complaint with the state's Legislative Equity Office, alleging that Nearman's actions created a hostile work environment for lawmakers.
On Monday, Nearman agreed to a range of interim safety measures, which required him to relinquish his Capitol access badge and offer 24 hours' notice before entering the building.
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Though police were able to eventually intercept the Oregon rioters, forcing them out of the building, the group still did considerable damage.
In addition to cracking the glass doors of the Capitol, rioters (some of whom were armed and carrying pro-Trump flags) also reportedly shoved police officers, sprayed law enforcement officers with bear spray and assaulted journalists who were on site to cover the legislative session.
Some of the Oregon rioters reportedly appear to have also stormed the U.S. Capitol in last week's deadly insurrection, according to a report by Oregon Public Broadcasting.
On Tuesday, Nearman released a statement in which he suggested that even legislative sessions that are streamed online still be physically "open."
"I don't condone violence nor participate in it. I do think that when Article IV, Section 14 of the Oregon Constitution says that the legislative proceedings shall be 'open,' it means open, and as anyone who has spent the last nine months staring at a screen doing virtual meetings will tell you, it's not the same thing as being open," Nearman wrote in his statement.
While Nearman's statement said that he and his family had been "subjected to criticism, attacks at my home and threats via email, social media and phone," since the video was aired, he did not mention the physical destruction and violence perpetrated by the rioters he appeared to have let into the building in December.
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