A number of high-profile New York Democrats were in attendance, including Mayor Bill De Blasio, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Governor Kathy Hochul.
She was discussing President Joe Biden‘s Build Back Better agenda and its impact on climate change when the heckler, 23-year-old Jose Vega, pointed out that earlier action could have possibly mitigated the devastating effects of flash floods the city saw during Hurricane Ida.
He confirmed his identity to DailyMail.com, and said: ‘People aren’t drowning because of global warming in Queens. They are drowning because of illegal apartments in Queens.’
Vega is a South Bronx resident and works for the Diane Sare for Senate campaign. Sare is an Independent candidate challenging Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for his seat in the upcoming 2022 election.
In September, flood waters surging into basement apartments killed 11 people throughout New York City. At least 13 people died in the city overall.
Local officials had blamed the city’s aging sewer system and said it wasn’t equipped to handle increasingly frequent bouts of extreme weather that are brought on by climate change.
‘Families drowned in Queens, It could have been prevented if we had the right infrastructure,’ Vega can be heard on video shouting.
Harris, at the podium, shouted back: ‘You are right brother.’
‘I am right about that,’ he responded.
The vice president’s microphone drowned out part of the protester’s speech as she offered, ‘I know you are, and how about if you and I talk about that.’
‘So let me finish,’ Harris began.
At one point Vega can be heard shouting, ‘Why aren’t we working with the Chinese on the Belt-and-Road Initiative?’
Harris continued speaking over his protests.
‘Okay you know what, you and I will talk after I give my comments and I am happy to talk with you,’ she said as sparse applause rings out.
‘Right now, let’s talk about the agenda-‘ she began, trying to finish her sentence above their protests.
Vega was then escorted out by Secret Service agents.
Harris was speaking at a YMCA in the Bronx to promote Biden’s infrastructure plans
The protester identified himself to DailyMail.com as 23-year-old Bronx resident Jose Vega
New York Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mayor Bill De Blasio and Governor Kathy Hochul were at the event
He later told DailyMail.com that Harris did not meet with him and that he didn’t hear her offer to do so as he was being pulled out of the venue.
‘But if the offer is still open I’d be glad to sit down and have a friendlier discussion,’ he said.
Harris’ office has not immediately returned a request for comment.
Vega said after today’s events that he was ‘speaking on behalf of the dead,’ like Kalief Browder, a former Rikers Island inmate who was imprisoned in solitary confinement for two years over allegations he stole a backpack.
Browder hung himself in 2015. Vega said Browder was a student at Bronx Community College, where he also attended.
Vega said his comments to Harris today, much of which was drowned out during the exchange, also referenced Browder.
A person leans on an abandoned car on the flooded Major Deegan Expressway following a night of extremely heavy rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ida on September 2
He said his full remarks at the event were, ‘What about the families who drowned? 8 families drowned in Queens which could’ve prevented if we had built the right infrastructure And the Chinese have shown that poverty is a choice. Why aren’t we working with the the Chinese on their Belt and Road initiatives?’
‘What’s wrong with magnetically levitated trains that go 400 to 600 mph? That would cut all the plane flights in the nation massively, saving fuel.’
‘AOC’s Green New Deal is not the answer. Get the credit to American business. Bail out the people with an FDR program of more power plants, hospitals, railways and schools. That’s what Khalief Browder wanted—a chance to make his own life mean something other than the injustice he suffered. We’ve gone through 50 years of benign neglect and planned shrinkage.’
China’s Belt-and-Road Initiative is a massive infrastructure plan in which the powerful economy is aiming to invest in nearly 70 different countries and organizations.
Some countries, like the US, have been skeptical of China’s efforts to strengthen global infrastructure and engagement as a vehicle to grow the country’s influence throughout the world.
Harris was in the Bronx as part of the Biden administration’s effort to make the case for the president’s ambitious Build Back Better agenda to the American people.
In Washington, DC, the plan has lawmakers in a seemingly unending stalemate as Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer work to appease both moderates and progressives within the Democratic Party.