Oregon politician expelled for letting far-right protesters into state Capitol

Representative Mike Nearman is the first member of Oregon’s state House to be expelled in its 160-year history.

Pro-Trump and anti-mask demonstrators hold a rally outside the Oregon State Capitol last December
Pro-Trump and anti-mask demonstrators hold a rally outside the Oregon State Capitol last December

Legislators in Oregon have expelled a Republican legislator who let violent, far-right protesters into the Statehouse last December.

Representative Mike Nearman was the first member of the House to be expelled in its 160-year history.

The House voted 59-1 to remove him from the Legislature for disorderly behaviour.

At an earlier hearing, Democratic Representative Paul Holvey said Mr Nearman let in protesters who had planned to occupy the Capitol. Some were armed.

Mr Nearman was seen on security video opening a door to protesters on December 21 as politicians met in emergency session to deal with economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Protesters barged into the building, which was closed to the public because of coronavirus safety protocols, got into shoving matches with police and sprayed officers with bear spray.

“It’s impossible to overstate the seriousness of the reason we are here today,” Mr Holvey said.

“Rep Nearman enabled armed, violent protesters to enter the Capitol, breaching the security of the Capitol, which was officially closed to the public, and also endangered the authorised staff and legislators inside the building.”

Some of the protesters had guns. Among those who gathered outside the Capitol in Salem that day were people espousing false QAnon conspiracy theories about Democrats kidnapping babies.

They carried American flags and banners for former President Donald Trump. One carried a sign calling for the arrest of Democratic governor Kate Brown, Mr Holvey said.

Mr Nearman was unapologetic as he read a statement to the committee.

“The fact is that I exited the building and members of the public entered into the Capitol building, a place they had a right to be — a place the Legislative Assembly had no right to exclude them from,” Mr Nearman said. He said that on legal advice he would not answer questions.

Hundreds of people provided written testimony to the House Special Committee On December 21, 2020, which is composed of three democrats and three Republicans.

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