Oregon lawmaker ousted for allowing rioters into State Capitol

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The exterior of the State Capitol building is viewed on September 27, 2017, in Salem, OregonImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Mike Nearman opened a door at the State Capitol building that allowed protesters to enter

Lawmakers in the US state of Oregon have ousted a Republican representative for his role in helping crowds breach the State Capitol in December.

Mike Nearman was removed by a vote of 59 to 1. His was the only no vote.

It marks the first time in the state's history that a sitting Oregon lawmaker has been expelled.

Mr Nearman's removal comes days after a video surfaced appearing to show him telling protesters how to gain access to the State Capitol on 21 December.

Separate footage shows Mr Nearman opening a door to the State Capitol. He then steps around a protester "who rushed past him into the building, followed closely by a second demonstrator who held the door open for numerous other demonstrators, who also rushed in", the resolution for his removal states.

The protesters could be heard shouting "enemies of the state" and "arrest Kate Brown", the state's Democratic governor, the resolution says. There was considerable damage inflicted inside the building and police officers were injured. Some of the protesters were armed members of far-right groups.

Mr Nearman - who was serving his fourth term - is also facing charges over allegedly letting the rioters in. A court hearing is scheduled for later this month.

During the vote to expel him, around 40 of his supporters gathered at the statehouse, the Willamette Week reported. They chanted "traitor" and "treason" at lawmakers as they exited the building later.

In a statement released after the vote, Speaker Tina Kotek, a Democrat, said: "His actions were blatant and deliberate, and he has shown no remorse for jeopardizing the safety of every person in the Capitol that day."

"The facts are clear that Mr Nearman unapologetically co-ordinated and planned a breach of the Oregon State Capitol," she added.

Mr Nearman spoke briefly after the vote.

"There's no reason to hear both sides and have at least something resembling due process," he said, sarcastically, USA Today reported. He maintained that he only believed people "should have access to their Capitol".

On Monday, state House Republicans had called on their colleague to step aside. Representative Christine Drazan, the state House Republican leader, said in a statement that Mr Nearman's "plan to let people into the Capitol ended with violence, property destruction and injured cops".

"This disregard for the rule of law leads us deeper into civil unrest and division. If we want to turn our state around we must hold ourselves to a higher standard as we work to lead and serve the greater good," she said.

Another state Republican, Bill Post, said "the crux of the problem" was that Mr Nearman had lied when he was asked about any evidence "that would show premeditation".

"Sadly, the newly emerged video evidence illustrating that Representative Nearman orchestrated and premeditatedly allowed those violent protesters into the Capitol leading to destruction of property and harm to the Oregon State Police, has forced House Republicans to call for his resignation," Mr Post wrote on his website.

Republicans will appoint a lawmaker to fill Mr Nearman's seat until next year's election.

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Media caption,

'I'm ashamed my father was a Capitol Hill rioter'

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