Protester takes mic from Kamala Harris while onstage at event

A protester took Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisBiden, Sanders to be center stage at first debate Biden, Sanders to be center stage at first debate Poll: Six Dems lead Trump in Florida match-ups MORE’s (D-Calif.) microphone as she spoke to attendees at an event in San Francisco on Saturday. 

In footage of the incident at the Big Ideas Forum hosted by MoveOn, the male protester can be seen entering the stage just as Harris took a question about the gender pay gap in the United States before being stopped by Karine Jean-Pierre, MoveOn's chief public affairs officer.

The protester, named Aidan Cook, said he wanted ask for Harris’s attention on “a much bigger idea” before he was removed from the stage by security. Harris continued speaking after his removal. 

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Direct Action Everywhere, an animal rights organization based in California, said in a statement that the man was an activist who wanted to call on Harris “to support ordinary citizens rescuing animals rather than the factory farms that abuse animals.” 

Wayne Hsiung, the founder of the group, said that “families of ordinary Americans are being endangered, and whistleblowers who expose criminal violations are being targeted.”

“The typical voter — especially in the Democratic Party — doesn’t approve, so we’re asking for the party to end its support for corporate Big Ag,” he added. 

A number of other 2020 Democratic presidential contenders attended the event on Saturday, including Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandOvernight Health Care: Democrats attack after Trump revives talk of ObamaCare replacement | Cruz, Ocasio-Cortez efforts on birth control face major obstacles | CVS investing M to fight teen e-cig use Overnight Health Care: Democrats attack after Trump revives talk of ObamaCare replacement | Cruz, Ocasio-Cortez efforts on birth control face major obstacles | CVS investing M to fight teen e-cig use Trump's 2020 campaign strategy is to be above the law MORE (N.Y.), Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerWarren introduces universal child care legislation Warren introduces universal child care legislation Booker responds to Trump's mass deportation threat: 'This is not who we are' MORE (N.J.), Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive takeaways from Trump's 2020 kickoff rally Five takeaways from Trump's 2020 kickoff rally Sanders tears into Trump in response to campaign kickoff rally MORE (I-Vt.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas), several of whom spoke prior to Harris's session.

When asked by a reporter after his removal about whether he had considered how it would look beforehand for him to be taking away a microphone away from a woman of color, Cook said, “I did. I tried to show my profound respect for each of the people onstage.”

Harris’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

MoveOn issued an apology to Harris after the event, saying in a statement on Twitter that it regrets "that a protestor was able to gain access to the stage at our forum today."

"The protestor was removed & the program resumed. MoveOn members were excited to hear Harris continue to discuss her Big Idea to achieve pay equity," the organization added.

In the hours following the incident on Saturday, a number of critics have called out the protester for what many have pointed to as example of "mansplaining," including Harris's national press secretary, Ian Sams.

"Kamala Harris doesn’t flinch. She is tough and strong," Sams said of Harris's demeanor during the incident on Twitter. "She certainly isn’t 'timid.' Dudes can mansplain all they want, and their avatar in the White House - the Mansplainer in Chief - is in trouble with her opposite him on the debate stage."

"Security aside, one thing that jumps out to me about this whole situation is how entitled a dude must be to rush a stage and literally take a mic out of the hand of a sitting senator, 3x CA statewide elected official, and presidential candidate," he added.