Video Shows GOP Oregon State Rep Giving 'How To Breach Statehouse' Tips, ALLEGEDLY
Last December, a group of far-right demonstrators, pissed about mask mandates and shutdowns, breached the Oregon statehouse during a legislative session. Surveillance footage showed GOP state Rep. Mike Nearman opening doors in a stairwell and letting in members of the mob. Nearman was charged in April with "unlawfully and knowingly" playing doorman to the maskless marauders "with intent to obtain a benefit or to harm another."
Now, we've learned this wasn't a spontaneous asshole event but rather appears to be premeditated riot assistance. Oregon Public Broadcasting uncovered a YouTube video, apparently streamed live on December 16, that showed Nearman speaking in front of a projected computer screen. You can watch the video here, but only if you're a paying member of "The Black Conservative Preacher" channel, and there's no good reason for that. Nearman told his audience about how they could engage themselves in state politics, saying they could "take as big a bite or as small a bite as you want." This seemed like your typical, average infomercial, but then he started hinting about a so-called “Operation Hall Pass."
Nearman's a smooth operator, so he made it clear in the video that he knew nothing about "Operation Hall Pass," which he brought up in the first place, and if anyone accused him of knowing anything about "Operation Hall Pass," he would deny it. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge ... say no more.
Nearman continues, saying, "There might be some person's number which might be [his cell phone number], but that is just random numbers... that's not anybody's actual cell phone. And if you say, 'I'm at the West entrance' during the session and text to that number there, that somebody might exit that door while you're standing there."
If you're having trouble cracking his code, Nearman basically said he'd let people into the state Capitol, which was closed for the pandemic, if they texted his cell phone.
A man asks: If people were to show up at the Capitol "hypothetically speaking," what would be better — a weekend or a weekday? Nearman says that's a tough question, because "responsible citizens" have jobs on weekdays but lawmakers such as himself will be there working during a session.
Then he imagines a discussion among legislators who realize people are gathering at the Capitol: "They're out there on the Capitol getting ready to riot and all kind of stuff."
Later in the video, a woman says she is getting "excited" about Monday.
“Operation Hall Pass" went as planned, and dozens of angry people entered the building on December 21. They chanted “arrest Kate Brown" and “enemies of the state!" They attacked state police and damaged property, and it wasn't even Joe Biden's America yet. At least five people were arrested on charges including trespassing and assault. One of the thugs who made it inside thanks to “Operation Hall Pass" reportedly sprayed troopers with "some kind of chemical agent."
Protesters demanding to be allowed into the Capitol for the session are squaring off w dozens of Salem officers and… https://t.co/jDUBozEpWc— Dirk VanderHart (@Dirk VanderHart)1608572054.0
Democratic House Speaker Tina Kotek demanded Nearman's resignation in January, when he was whining that he was the victim of "mob justice." She tweeted on April 30: "Rep. Nearman put every person in the Capitol in serious danger and created fear among Capitol staff and legislators. I called on him to resign in January and renew my call in light of today's charges." Nearman obviously didn't resign or accept responsibility for his actions. He's a Republican, for God's sake. He even accused Kotek of inciting "a wave of 'hate-filled and profanity laced' attacks on his family" because she publicly discussed his alleged crimes.
Today’s revelation that Rep. Nearman's actions last December were premeditated is incredibly disturbing. I once aga… https://t.co/tRuBLeMNUZ— Tina Kotek (@Tina Kotek)1622858718.0
Kotak tweeted Friday:
Today's revelation that Rep. Nearman's actions last December were premeditated is incredibly disturbing. I once again call for his resignation. If he does not immediately resign, I believe he should face expulsion from the Legislature.
Nearman's already lost his committee assignments, and his own access to the state Capitol is currently restricted. The video should rightly serve as the final straw, and his colleagues should expel him post haste. But that requires a two-thirds vote in the House so Democrats would need at least three whole Republicans to step up and do the right thing. That's probably a reach. Oregon GOP House leader Rep. Christine Drazan supported an investigation, conceding that state legislators are “not above the law," but she's yet to comment on the latest, most damning video. The word “coward" seems fitting here.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."