Aidan Cook is the animal rights protester who rushed the stage during MoveOn’s Big Ideas Forum in San Francisco. Cook grabbed the mic from Kamala Harris and tried to make a point about what he said was a “big idea.” You can see that clip above. Moderator Karine Jean-Pierre blocked Cook from approaching Harris. The roar of the crowd drowned out the point that Cook was supposed to be making, and security escorted him off stage and out of the event.
Here’s what you need to know about Aidan Cook:
1. He Is Part of a Global Network that Opposes Farming Practices & Protests Animal Cruelty
Video of Cook grabbing the mic from Kamala Harris went viral on social media. Afterward, a group called Direct Action Everywhere put out a press release about Cook’s protest. The group wrote that Cook wanted to draw attention “factory farm cruelty” and especially the treatment of animals on industrial-scale farms. Cook was also protesting the treatement of six protesters who have been arrested in California after trying to rescue sick and dying chickens from a farm. Those six activists are facing felony charges, according to the group.
Both Cook and other members of the group said that they were protesting against Kamala Harris because she is one of California’s senators — not because she is a candidate for president.
2. He Says He Wanted to Show ‘Profound Respect’ for Harris & Everyone On Stage
Cook told a reporter with the Guardian that he wanted to express his “profound respect” for Kamala Harris and everyone on stage at the MoveOn event. He said he tried to show his respect even while he was grabbing Kampala’s mike; he did this by keeping his hands up and telling her “I’m really sorry to be doing this, I just have to ask you an important question.” The sound of the crowd roaring drowned out almost everything Cook said. The event’s moderator, Karine Jean Pierre, blocked Cook from getting close to Harris, and security quickly escorted him out.
3. He Disrupted a Bernie Sanders Event in 2016 & Said He Wanted to ‘Outdo’ That This Year
In 2016, when Cook was 21, he was part of a group of animal rights activists that disrupted a Bernie Sanders event in Oakland. Cook was one of five activists who successfully jumped over a barricade and rushed the stage as Sanders was speaking. Cook said that they were targeting Bernie Sanders because he accepted donations from agribusiness. “We want to see Sanders make a statement of full equality for all species to reflect the true progressive values he claims he stands for,” Cook said at the time. Cook and his fellow protesters were briefly detained but were not arrested.
On May 27, days before he grabbed the mic from Kamala Harris, Cook wrote a Facebook post reminiscing about disrupting the Bernie Sander event. He said that he hoped his group would “outdo” that this year. He wrote, “This day three years ago kicked off a new chapter of my life. Protesting Berne 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.”
4. He’s Been Investigated for Stealing Chickens
In 2017, Cook was part of a group of activists that stole four hens from a family farm in Berthoud, Colorado. According to local media, Cook and his associates visited the farm on a Sunday, when the farm was holding an event to educate the public about its farming practices. The members of Cook’s group asked the 8 year old farmer’s daughter whether they could hold some hens. But instead of giving the hens back, the four men tucked the chickens under their arms and walked away. Members of the group later told the farm owner, “We have taken your birds to a sanctuary, where they can be free.”
Cook told the media later that they had targeted the farm specifically because it boasted about its humane practices. “We seek out places that are selling what we call the ‘humane myth’ or ‘humane lie,'” he said. “It’s this idea that if you treat them the right way then there is an ethical way to exploit and kill animals. … We want to show that no matter how well you treat someone during their life, that doesn’t give you the right to kill them.”
5. He’s a Member of the Green Party & Lives in Oakland, California
According to voting records, Aidan Cook was born in 1995 ; he is registered to vote and is a member of the Green Party. Cook is originally from Boulder, Colorado but now lives in Oakland, according to his Facebook page.