SAN FRANCISCO — An animal-rights protester snatched Sen. Kamala Harris’ microphone during a Democratic presidential candidates forum in San Francisco on Saturday before being escorted from the stage.
The California senator was discussing implementing her gender pay-gap plan at the MoveOn “Big Ideas Forum” when the protester ran onto the stage, took the microphone from her hand and began speaking to the crowd. The protester was blocked by moderator Karine Jean-Pierre before being surrounded by security.Harris, meanwhile, quickly walked off the stage.
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“We’re asking for a much bigger idea than…” the protester said before his microphone was cut off and he was removed from the stage.
The protester, Aidan Cook, of the Direct Action Everywhere animal-rights group, was asking for Harris to “support ordinary citizens rescuing animals rather than the factory farms that abuse animals, sicken local populations and repress whistleblowing activity,” according to a press release by DAE.
“I live in Oakland and I’m one of Kamala Harris’ constituents. I came to the MoveOn Big Ideas Forum today because there’s one big idea that all of the 2020 presidential candidates are ignoring. Which is that is by raising and slaughtering billions of animals every year not only are we completely … undermining our values as a nation of compassionate animal lovers but we are literally preparing to drive our society off a cliff. Animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of climate change,” Cook told POLITICO.
“We’ve done everything we could to try to start this conversation through normal channels, we’ve reached out to all the campaigns, including Kamala’s, we’ve reached out to MoveOn and pretty much have been completely ignored,” Cook said when asked if taking the microphone from Harris’ hand could be seen as threatening.
As Cook was being taken off stage, a moderator said, “Thank you so much sir, for your big idea, but we want to make sure that we are able to get through this. It’s OK, folks, it’s OK. People have their own big ideas.”
After the incident, the crowd began to chant “Kamala” as the candidate walked back on.
“It’s all good. It’s all good. Don’t worry,” Harris told the crowd, before telling the moderator, “You had a question I want to answer.”
“We sincerely regret that a protestor was able to gain access to the stage at our forum today & we apologize to Sen. @KamalaHarris. The protestor was removed & the program resumed. MoveOn members were excited to hear Harris continue to discuss her Big Idea to achieve pay equity.” MoveOn’s offical Twitter account wrote.
A Harris spokesperson declined to comment.
Cook was not charged and was let go after being escorted outside.
Harris’ husband, Douglas Emhoff, who helped escort Cook offstage, later tweeted that the couple “are good.”