Aidan Cook, the animal rights activist who rushed the stage and grabbed the mic from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as she was speaking at MoveOn’s Big Ideas Forum in San Francisco, disrupted a Bernie Sanders rally in 2016, according to the 24-year-old’s Facebook page.
On May 27, Cook, a member of animal rights organization Direct Action Everywhere, shared the memory of secret service agents dragging him away from the May 2016 Sanders’ event—during which he and four other members of DAE jumped a barricade and protested Sanders’ complicity in “factory farming”—adding:
This day three years ago kicked off a new chapter of my life. Protesting Berne [sic] Sanders from the left was the biggest thing that happened at the ALC that year. With everything kicking off right now, it feels like the next chapter, and I can’t help but wonder how we’ll outdo ourselves this year.
Well, now we know how Cook “outdid” himself. Five days after his Facebook post, Harris was onstage at the Big Ideas Forum preparing to answer a question on the gender pay gap, when Cook purposefully strolled on stage, zeroed in on Harris, and grabbed the mic from her hands.
“We were protesting just a few minutes ago asking for your attention to a much bigger idea …,” Cook could be heard saying.
Karine Jean-Pierre, the chief public affairs office of MoveOn, physically put herself between Harris and Cook, and attempted to get the mic away from him like a true sister warrior.
Eventually, security—including MoveOn staffers and Harris’ husband Douglas Emhoff—made it on stage, escorting Cook out.
Harris, who had exited the stage for a brief moment, according to HuffPo, returned moments later to continue the discussion to shouts of “Kamala! Kamala!” from the crowd.
“It’s all good,” Harris assured the audience. “No worries.”
Cook told Politico that MoveOn security was “cool” about his disruption of the forum and he is not being charged with a crime, noting that—similarly to the Sanders rally in 2016—he was trying to bring attention to the mass extinction of animals.
“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 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.
The news site asked Cook if his stunt could have been seen as threatening, but he merely said, “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.”
MoveOn later tweeted out an apology for Cook’s ability to gain access to the stage.
But whether or not Cook’s move could have been seen as threatening, there were definitely those on social media who criticized him, as a white man, for literally taking a microphone away from a Black woman, effectively silencing her ideas.