Security video obtained by the Oregonian/OregonLive under a public records request clearly shows Rep. Mike Nearman, a Republican from Independence, Oregon, open two doors to the Capitol during a Dec. 21 special legislative session, allowing violent demonstrators who were protesting immediately outside the door to illegally enter the building.
Oregon’s Capitol was and is closed to the public due to the pandemic, although journalists are allowed inside to report on proceedings and the meetings are streamed live and archived online.
The demonstrators, many of whom were unmasked and some of whom carried rifles, objected to the state’s coronavirus restrictions and sought to disrupt the session underway. State troopers and Salem police ultimately prevented them from entering the building’s rotunda or reaching the House or Senate chambers, but not before some of the rioters allegedly sprayed six troopers with a chemical substance that was reportedly pepper spray. The video shows spray being deployed.
Some demonstrators physically attacked journalists who were reporting on the event. At least one person was arrested after trying to enter the Capitol by breaking the window in a door. People also gained entrance without breaking in – and this security footage shows exactly how.
At least two people have so far been arrested on charges related to the breach on the morning of Dec. 21.
House Speaker Tina Kotek said on Thursday that legislative leaders were exploring how they could sanction any lawmaker who aided rioters in forcing their way into the Capitol on Dec. 21.
Oregon State Police are investigating the incident, she said.
House Republicans never responded to a request for comment on the incident Thursday.
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