SAN FRANCISCO — An animal rights protester grabbed Sen. Kamala Harris’ microphone and derailed a presidential candidate forum in San Francisco on Saturday.
Harris was in the middle of discussing her plan for gender pay equality during a forum sponsored by the liberal group MoveOn when 24-year-old Oakland resident Aidan Cook jumped onstage. He strode over to Harris and grabbed the microphone out of her hand, saying he wanted to speak about “a much bigger issue” as attendees started yelling.
A moderator, Karine Jean-Pierre, stood between Harris and Cook as security guards escorted him offstage. Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, also got onto the stage to help wrest the microphone away from him, while the senator briefly walked offstage.
Within a minute, Harris was back as the crowd chanted “Kamala, Kamala.”
“It’s all good, it’s all good, don’t worry,” Harris said with a smile. “You had a question I want to answer.”
This isn’t the first time that Cook, a member of the animal-rights group Direct Action Everywhere, has interrupted a presidential candidate — he also jumped a barricade at an Oakland rally of Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2016, according to news reports.
He told reporters Saturday that he was not being charged with a crime.
The forum, which gave candidates the chance to present “one big idea” that would change the country, was taking place near the state Democratic Party convention. Harris’ plan would require large companies to pay a fee of one percent of their annual profits for every percent of their pay gap between men and women, considering differences in job titles and experience.
Harris fans applauded her composed reaction to the incident on social media, and noted the irony of a “mansplainer” interrupting a discussion of gender equity.
MoveOn apologized to Harris, saying “we sincerely regret that a protester was able to gain access to the stage.”
“We are good,” Emhoff tweeted after the episode. “I love ?@KamalaHarris? and would do anything for her.”
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