A protester grabbed the microphone from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) after jumping onstage during an event Saturday in San Francisco where the 2020 presidential hopeful was speaking.
Harris had been discussing student loans for black students at MoveOn’s Big Ideas Forum when Aidan Cook, a 24-year-old animal rights activist from Oakland, took the mic from Harris and began speaking.
Karine Jean-Pierre, MoveOn’s chief public affairs officer, immediately jumped up from her seat next to Harris to intervene before event security came on stage to handle the situation.
Harris left the stage during the commotion as MoveOn staffers and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, escorted Cook off the stage. She returned moments later to continue the panel discussion to chants of “Kamala! Kamala! Kamala!” from the audience.
“It’s all good,” Harris told the crowd. “No worries.”
Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) released a press release after the incident identifying Cook as a member of the animal rights organization.
Cook told Politico he sought to focus attention on the mass extinction of animals. He said he’s not being charged with a crime and that MoveOn security was “cool about it.”
MoveOn apologized to Harris in a tweet Saturday.
“We sincerely regret that a protestor was able to gain access to the stage at our forum today & we apologize to Sen. @KamalaHarris,” the progressive public policy advocacy group said. “The protestor was removed & the program resumed. MoveOn members were excited to hear Harris continue to discuss her Big Idea to achieve pay equity.”
Though some Twitter users applauded Cook’s activism, many condemned his “disrespectful” actions and pointed out that the incident involved a white man interrupting a woman of color.
A reporter for The Guardian tweeted that she asked Cook whether he had considered “the optics of literally taking the microphone away from women of color.”
“I did,” Cook replied. “I tried to show my profound respect for each of the people onstage.”