“OSP (Oregon State Police) has confirmed and informed us that Rep. Mike Nearman did open a door to allow demonstrators into the building. This was a serious, serious breach of public trust. His actions put staff and legislators and law enforcement in danger.”
— Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D) Portland
On December 21, the Oregon State Legislature was in private session to discuss emergency and end-of-year spending measures (including financial relief for landlords) and to extend the statewide moratorium on evictions. At approximately 9AM, several hundred rightwing demonstrators descended upon the Capitol to protest measures intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Billed as a “flash mob,” the event was promoted by Vancouver, WA based Patriot Prayer. The right-wing extremist group’s founder Joey Gibson addressed the crowd.
The Oregon State Capitol has been closed to the public since the beginning of the pandemic. Still, mysteriously, a group of demonstrators gained access to a vestibule in the building, resulting in a confrontation with State Police and two arrests.
Oregon Public Radio has revealed that Rep. Nearman is under investigation and facing punitive measures for opening the building to the unruly mob. Thus far, Nearman has yet to comment on the allegations, telling OPB only…
“I just don’t have anything to say.”
He then demanded to know who informed OPB about the surveillance footage.
Nearman, one of Oregon’s most extreme conservative lawmakers, has been associated with wing-nut shenanigans for years, including efforts to recall Democratic Governor Kate Brown and pending lawsuits to reverse the Brown’s emergency pandemic orders. In 2017, a Nearman aide pleaded guilty to passing a pistol to a convicted felon, who then brought the weapon to a pro-Trump demonstration at the Capitol.
Some of those prayerful patriots Nearman welcomed into the Capitol building proceeded to vandalize the property and pepper spray the police.
Democracy? Overrated. Blue lungs matter? I guess not.