Video shows Oregon Rep. Mike Nearman open Capitol door to far-right demonstrators




Shortly before 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 21, as his fellow lawmakers met upstairs, state Rep. Mike Nearman walked casually out of the Oregon Capitol.

Video surveillance footage shows Nearman did not break stride as he passed far-right demonstrators gathered immediately outside the door, demanding entrance to a building closed to the public because of COVID-19. Nor did Nearman take any steps to stop those demonstrators as they held ajar the door he had just opened and immediately began signaling others to crowd inside.

In short, the footage obtained by OPB Friday morning shows clearly what House Speaker Tina Kotek and others have described in recent days: Nearman appearing to — blatantly, purposefully — allow an incursion into the state Capitol.

A hectic and potentially dangerous scene unfolded almost immediately after Nearman slipped out of the north side of the building. State troopers and Salem police officers, learning of the breach, immediately crowded the hallway, pushing back people who had begun to make their way into the working home of both the legislature and Gov. Kate Brown. After nearly 10 minutes of jostling, and with the crowd forced out of the building, police retreated after being hit with what they later described as “bear mace.”

Footage shows demonstrators hesitating after police fell back, apparently uncertain it was safe for them to proceed inside. Joey Gibson, the leader of the far-right group Patriot Prayer, is among those captured taking halting steps into the Capitol before retreating.

Eventually, though, demonstrators — some in military gear, some bearing the Confederate flag, many unmasked — made it deeper into the Capitol on Dec. 21, engaging in a standoff with police in a vestibule just off the building’s stately rotunda for nearly an hour. They chanted things like “enemies of the state,” and “arrest Kate Brown.”

Two demonstrators were arrested by the time police in riot gear finally cleared people from the building.


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