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Salem Reporter

Freedom Foundation Tied to Oregon Insurrection

Video shows that the anti-union group's office were used to plan the attack on the state capitol

Brian Young's picture
Jun 08, 2021

On December 21, 2020, a group of violent rioters stormed the Oregon Capitol breaking windows on their way in to stop debate on COVID restrictions and related public assistance. The rioters entered the capitol wearing flax jackets and carrying long guns with multiple magazines. Rioters broke glass doors on the west side of the Capitol building, fought with police, assaulted journalists, and tore tarps from the marble reliefs on the front steps. At least one sprayed police with a chemical agent forcing police to retreat as the air became filled with chemical irritants. The riot was seen as a precursor to the Capitol insurgency that happened only a few weeks later and included at least three people who were at the Oregon attack.

In the days after the riot, a video came to light that a Republican State Representative, Mike Nearman, opened a side door to let the rioters into the capitol building, which was closed due to COVID protocols. Now a new video has come to light showing Nearman planning the attack a few days prior at the headquarters of the anti-union Freedom Foundation.

According to a new video, in the days before the riot, Nearman met with the organizers of the event at the offices of the anti-union Freedom Foundation and spoke to them about strategy for which day would be best to hold their “protest.” Playing coy, he announced that if someone was to call a “random” set of numbers that day, they might hypothetically be let into the building. Of course, that “random” set of numbers was Nearman’s cell phone number.

"There might be some person's number which might be [his cell phone number], but that is just random numbers," Nearman said. "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.'"

The Freedom Foundation, a Koch-brothers-backed anti-union group that has led anti-union efforts in the Northwest for years, listed Nearman as a “Senior Fellow” on their website up until a few days ago when the video was released by Oregon Public Broadcasting. He was previously the Oregon State Director of the organization. The group has admitted that the meeting took place at their Salem office, although they claim it was not a Freedom Foundation sanctioned event. Instead, they referred to it as a “meeting with a group of citizens learning about the legislative process.”

Nearman reportedly resigned from the Freedom Foundation on Monday, June 7th after the video was released.

Even after the Capitol Insurrection and the attack on the Capitol in Oregon, Nearman refused to back down. He was scheduled to headline a 2nd Amendment rally on May 1st that was being put on by groups like the Proud Boys and the III Percenters, both groups that took part in the Capitol insurgency. The only reason that Nearman didn’t speak at the rally was that he was charged the day before with two misdemeanors for official misconduct and criminal trespass.

After the video of Nearman plotting with the rioters at the Freedom Foundation was released, all 22 members of the Oregon House Republican Caucus signed a letter demanding that Nearman resign. They previously stripped him of his committee assignments and took away his badge access to the Capital. He is now required to give 24-hour notice before entering the building.

If Nearman does not resign, an expulsion hearing will take place. On Monday, House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, announced that a special House committee made up of three Democrats and three Republicans would investigate the case against Nearman and decide if he violated any House rules.

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