Sen. Kamala Harris was recently participating in a panel in San Francisco hosted by MoveOn, a liberal activist group, when it was abruptly interrupted by a white man from the crowd.
Aidan Cook, a self-described animal activist, rudely walked on stage and took a microphone from Kamala Harris prior to her answering a question on gender equality in the workforce.
Everyone, including Harris, was surprised. The Democratic presidential hopeful moved aside as Cook attempted to say something over the loudspeakers, however, the commotion created by his sudden (and privileged) action drowned out whatever he said.
An animal rights group called Direct Action Everywhere claimed responsibility for the incident. Cook, of course, was not harmed during the incident and the whole incident was luckily broken up swiftly. MoveOn spokesman Brian Stewart says the man was removed from the stage and program and “not arrested or detained” as far as he was aware. The panel also resumed.
Cook was reportedly located after the event by Lois Beckett, a reporter from The Guardian, and asked if he was aware of the optics of snatching a mic away from a woman of color. His response? “I did,” he said. “I tried to show my profound respect for each of the people onstage.”
I asked Aidan Cook, an animal rights activist who jumped onstage to interrupt Kamala Harris, if he had considered the optics of literally taking the microphone away from women of color.— Lois Beckett (@loisbeckett) June 1, 2019
“I did,” he said. “I tried to show my profound respect for each of the people onstage.” pic.twitter.com/uyMpV82lVP
MoveOn has responded on Twitter to what transpired at the panel and apologized to Sen. Harris and attendees that security was breached.
“We sincerely regret that a protestor was able to gain access to the stage at our forum today & we apologize to Sen. @KamalaHarris,” the organization tweeted. “The protestor was removed & the program resumed. MoveOn members were excited to hear Harris continue to discuss her Big Idea to achieve pay equity.”
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 (@MoveOn) June 2, 2019
Kamala Harris nor her campaign provided an immediate response to the incident. She was one of 14 presidential candidates in San Francisco over the weekend for the California Democratic Convention and other campaign stops.
While Harris hasn’t yet provided a response, plenty in the Twitterverse noted the white privilege of the man who felt entitled enough to just walk on-stage and silence a Black woman speaking. He received no punishment by security or subsequent legal proceedings.
Manbunwhiteboybeard hopping on stage uninvited to GRAB THE MICROPHONE OUT OF KAMALA HARRIS’ HAND and talk over the women of color IS THE EXACT METAPHOR FOR WHY WE ARE IN THIS POLITICAL HELLSCAPE RIGHT NOW #BigIdeaspic.twitter.com/vzKc5wZ24D— Jenny Yang stands w the WGA (@jennyyangtv) June 2, 2019
Let's be absolutely clear.— Victoria Brownworth #EqualityActNow (@VABVOX) June 2, 2019
If a black man had jumped onstage and yanked a mic from the hand of a white woman, he would not be interviewed by reporters. He'd be facing assault charges.
Why didn't he jump onstage during one of the men--like 6'5" Cory Booker?
This is patriarchy embodied. A white man runs up on stage UNINVITED, steals the mic from a black woman who is ANSWERING A QUESTION ABOUT THE GENDER PAY GAP, and says he has a “much bigger idea.” Masterful handling of this shameful behavior by @K_JeanPierre and @KamalaHarris. https://t.co/JETBlFbcEm— Lauren Rankin (@laurenarankin) June 2, 2019
If this had been a white woman on the stage with a black man storming the stage security would have been all over his ass. WTF?!— 𝕊𝕦𝕟’ℂ𝕙𝕒𝕝𝕝𝕒 🇪🇹 (@sunchallaj) June 2, 2019
This isn’t the first time Direct Action Everywhere interrupted a speech given by a Democratic presidential candidate. In 2016, Bernie Sanders was interrupted by a 21-year-old woman during a speech in the Bay Area. Ironically, the statement released over the interruption by the organization was made by Aidan Cook. He was also one of four other protesters to jump a barricade and approach the stage where Sanders was delivering his speech.
Photo: Kimberly White/Getty Images for MoveOn