SALEM, Ore. (AP) – Oregon lawmakers on Thursday evening kicked out a Republican lawmaker who let violent right-wing protesters enter the Statehouse.
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 behavior.
In a previous hearing, Representative Paul Holvey said Nearman let in protesters who planned to occupy the Capitol. Some were armed.
Nearman was seen on a security video opening a door for protesters on December 21 as lawmakers gathered 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, engaged in stampede matches with police, and sprayed officers with bear spray.
“It is impossible to overstate the gravity of why we are here today,” said Holvey. Representative. Nearman allowed armed and violent protesters to enter the Capitol, violating the security of the Capitol, which was officially closed to the public, and also endangering authorized personnel and lawmakers inside the building.
Some of the protesters had guns. Among those who gathered outside the Capitol in Salem that day were people who espoused false QAnon conspiracy theories about Democrats abducting 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, Holvey said.
Nearman did not apologize when reading a statement to the committee.
“The point is, I got out of the building and members of the public entered the Capitol building, a place they had a right to be – a place that the Legislative Assembly was not allowed to. exclude, ”Nearman said. He said that on the advice of his lawyer, he would not answer questions.
Hundreds of people testified in writing before the Special House Committee on December 21, 2020, made up of three Democrats and three Republicans.
Some people who testified denounced Nearman as a seditionist. Others praised him for letting people enter the Capitol, saying residents should be allowed to attend even though the hearings are being broadcast live on video.
“Mike Nearman’s behavior … was heinous and undemocratic,” said David Alba. “In addition, by helping and supporting extremists, he put the lives of people in danger. He should be removed from his post and he is not fit to represent my district.
After a video appeared in local newspapers on Friday showing Nearman choreographing how he would let protesters enter the Capitol, pointing to the door he would open to them and disclosing his cell phone number so protesters could text him, all of his House GOP colleagues strongly recommended that he resign on Monday.
But Nearman’s supporters have said they elected him and the House should not expel him. One supporter has suggested that these 22 GOP lawmakers be removed from their posts.
“We see you compromising Republicans who undermine concepts of morality, freedom and justice to bring the waking crowd to one knee,” Casey Ocupe said in written testimony. “May your Republican voters have no mercy on you.”
House Speaker Tina Kotek on Monday introduced a resolution that would force the House to expel Nearman if two-thirds of its members voted for him. She appointed the committee to look into the matter.
Kotek credited riot police, who ultimately repelled the protesters, with preventing a large-scale assault like that by Trump supporters on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. She said some were visibly injured and shaken.
Nearman did not respond to numerous requests for comment from The Associated Press. He told a conservative radio show that a video presentation he held on December 16 “was in the process of preparing on the 21st.” He said his actions were civil disobedience because he opposed the closure of the Capitol to the public.
Nearman also faces two felony misdemeanor charges and has said he will seek a jury trial.
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