SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Security video shows a Republican state representative letting protesters into the Oregon Capitol building, which was closed to the public, during a December special legislative session in which demonstrators attacked authorities with bear spray and broke glass doors.
As lawmakers inside the building on Dec. 21 discussed coronavirus-related bills, around 50 protesters briefly breached the building. The Capitol has been closed to the public as part of a pandemic safety measure.
House Speaker Tina Kotek said Thursday during a news conference about the Capitol operations safety plan that Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence, had allowed protesters into the building. Kotek called Nearman’s actions “reckless and dangerous.”
Protesters were eventually cleared from the building and at least one person was arrested at the time.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the video shows Nearman open two doors to the Capitol on Dec. 21, which allowed the protesters to enter. In the video, after Nearman exits, a group of protesters gained access to an entryway. A short time later police arrive and several protesters scuffle with them as authorities force them from the building.
“This was a serious, serious breach of public trust. His actions put staff and legislators and law enforcement in danger,” Kotek said. “Legislative staff and members felt terrorized by the incursion, particularly our members who are members of color.”
It is not immediately clear if and what consequences Nearman will face. Attempts to reach Nearman have been unsuccessful.
Lawmakers have pledged to review Capitol safety rules and the possibility of increased security for the upcoming Legislative Session, which begins Jan. 19.