FILE — Oregon capitol protest arrest

Jerry Dyerson, who joined a mob of Trump supporters to storm the Oregon state Capitol building in Salem, is taken into custody by police on December 21, 2020 after he refused to leave an antechamber inside the building. He could be heard screaming, "I can't breathe" akin to popular chants by Black Lives Matter activists denouncing chokeholds and racist policing. Dyerson appeared to be breathing fine at the time. Content Exchange

(The Center Square) — A Republican state lawmaker seen letting a group of Trump supporters into the Oregon Capitol building in December has been fined and stripped of his duties by House leadership.

On Dec. 21, surveillance cameras captured footage of Oregon Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence, opening a door for a group of some 300 supporters of President Donald Trump gathered outside the Capitol building in Salem.

The building was closed to the general public because of pandemic-related health restrictions and saw several doors and windows broken during the incident.

Two journalists documenting the event were assaulted by the Trump mob along with six police officers at the scene. Oregon lawmakers who convened inside the building for a special legislative session did not see contact with the mob.

Six suspects accused of joining the Capitol break-in have been taken into custody on charges ranging from disorderly conduct to assault. State police are searching for a seventh suspect accused of using smoke devices outside the building.

Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, announced on Monday evening that Nearman had been stripped of his committee assignments and rescinded his commission appointments.

The House speaker will be filing a joint conduct complaint with members of the House to the Legislative Equity Office on the grounds that Nearman's actions created a hostile work environment at the Capitol.

According to Kotek, Nearman has read a statement on the House floor agreeing to safety measures. They include providing 24 hours notice each time he enters the building, relinquishing his access badge to the Capitol, and prohibiting entry to unauthorized personnel.

The measures, according to Kotek, are to ensure Capitol occupants are able to adjust their onsite work schedules should they not feel safe around Nearman.

"As we tragically saw last week during the insurrection at the United States Capitol, the consequences could have been much worse had law enforcement not stepped in so quickly," Kotek said in a written statement. "[Nearman's] actions have created immense fear among legislators and Capitol staff. I believe he should resign immediately because he has already breached the public trust and endangered our ability to safely conduct the people’s business."

Nearman is also being billed for $2,000 in damages to the state Capitol building caused on December 21. He has not responded to The Center Square's requests for comment on his actions that day.

On Sunday, Oregon House Minority Leader Christine Drazan, R-Canby, issued a statement acknowledging Nearman was indeed seen on video letting the mob into the capitol building.

She still argued the Oregon State Police's ongoing criminal investigation into Nearman must continue to prove he committed any wrongdoing.

"The investigation into this incident by law enforcement is underway and must be allowed to be completed," Drazan said. "If the investigation finds that actions taken were criminal, legislators are not above the law and will be held responsible."

Last week, Kotek said the legislature is adopting additional safety precautions such as evacuations plans, alert systems, and more security as evidenced by increased police presence at the capitol mall on Monday.

Salem has seen a number of violent protests centered around President Trump in past weeks, including a Trump rally at the state Capitol on January 6 which saw members of the far-right Proud Boys group attack a group of counter-protesters.

The incident seriously injured Black Lives Matter activist Gary Floyd, a relative of George Floyd. He has since left critical care, according to sources close to him.

Local and state police who arrived at the scene to separate the groups took up to five minutes to respond.

Salem Police Lt. Treven Upkes said Monday local police were not stationed at the Capitol mall, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Oregon State Police.

Upkes said the department is unaware of any injuries related to the incident and protesters did not request assistance from officers on scene.

Oregon State Police Capt. Tim Fox said Monday state troopers were inside the Capitol building at the time the attack began.

A widely reported FBI bulletin obtained by ABC News says armed occupations of U.S. state capitols are slated to begin on January 16 and continue through January 20 when President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated.

Oregon State Police officials have reported similar rumors they say are credible.

The Oregon legislature will reconvene at the state Capitol building on January 19 to kick off the 2021 legislative session, which will be be conducted largely online save for votes and other critical floor business.

This article originally ran on

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