Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) may be among the most progressive candidates competing for the 2020 Democratic nomination, but, apparently, she’s still not progressive enough for everyone who attended the MoveOn.org candidate forum Saturday.
In a horrifying moment captured on Twitter, Harris was speaking about the so-called “wage gap,” when a self-descried “animal rights protester” named Aiden Cook rushed ont the stage and casually ripped the microphone from Harris’s hands. Unable to get security into the mix quickly enough, Harris’s husband, and MoveOn’s public affairs director, Karine Jean-Pierre, were forced to use their bodies to shield Harris from Cook.
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) June 1, 2019
“I’m asking for your attention for a much bigger idea than…” Cook managed to eke out before being forcibly removed from the stage by event staff and Harris’s husband, Douglas Emhoff.
Emhoff later Tweeted that he and Harris, who returned to the stage moments later, shaken but none the worse for wear, were “good.”
Fortunately, the attack wasn’t a violent one. Cook simply felt it was his right to speak on stage and, before anyone could say anything, grabbed the mic from Harris and began his own tirade. After being escorted off stage, Cook told media that he believed he was being respectful.
Politico reports that Cook told a reporter that he “tried to show my profound respect for each of the people onstage.”
“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 added in an interview with Politico later.
That would probably be news to Kamala Harris and MoveOn.org team members, though MoveOn.org seemed reticent to condemn Cook, who got close enough to Harris to present a real danger to a presidential candidate. They eventually apologized for their lack of care in making certain audience members weren’t there to rush the stage and threaten politicians, but they did not press charges against Cook, and later told the audience that the forum was about “big ideas” and sometimes “people have their own big ideas.”
MoveOn did issue a Tweet to Harris later.
“We sincerely regret that a protestor was able to gain access to the stage at our forum today & we apologize to Sen. @KamalaHarris,” they 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.”
Cook is a member of a group called “Direct Action Everywhere,” which is known for their public — often bizarre — attempts to “draw attention” to animal rights. DAE says, on its website, that its mission is “support ordinary citizens rescuing animals rather than the factory farms that abuse animals, sicken local populations and repress whistle-blowing activity.”
Cook himself interrupted a Bernie Sanders (I-VT) rally back in 2012. Other members of DAE have been known to harass people in restaurants who appear to be eating meat, storm farms and “free” livestock, protesting outside Whole Foods and Chipotle, and propagating an “animal liberation” pledge. They are not beloved even among more progressive activist groups.