SALEM, Ore. — New security measures have been installed at the Oregon State Capitol, including metal detectors and X-ray machines at both ends of the building.
The increased security comes after right-wing protestors forced their way inside during a one-day special session in December 2020, just a few weeks before Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Senate President Peter Courtney said the new measures are to ensure the safety of everyone in the building.
"When they invaded the Capitol, broke in, came through one door and smashed another, they came pretty far, that was scary stuff," Courtney said.
The group gained access when Mike Nearman, a Polk County Republican, allowed them in by opening and exiting a side door, which was caught on security camera video. The protesters barged in and sprayed police with chemical irritants. A number of them were armed.
Nearman was eventually expelled from the legislature and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor after video emerged showing Nearman choreographing how he would let protesters into the Capitol, pinpointing the door he would open for them and disclosing his cell phone number so protesters could text him.
Now, there will be trained security at each entrance checking for weapons or other dangerous items. Sen. Courtney said this is the first time they've had to take such serious steps.
"Everything is changing now, and it's based on making sure whoever comes into the building is safe and feels safe," Courtney said. "Here we are, starting to join all the other states limiting access to the people's building, and I think that's very sad."
There are 33 other states across the nation that have metal detectors and X-ray machines at Capitol entrances. The money for the new safety measures comes from the 2021 session where the legislative administration received more than $2 million for safety upgrades.