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'AZ Patriots' leader bear sprays protesters, police investigating

tempe macing incident
Posted at 6:46 PM, Jul 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-08 12:40:16-04

TEMPE — Update: Tempe police tweeted early Thursday afternoon saying the department is "actively attempting to locate Jennifer Harrison, so that she can be arrested and criminally charged for her involvement." Tempe police later announced that around 5 p.m., Harrison self-surrendered to Tempe PD. She was booked and charged with disorderly conduct and assault. Additional charges of aggravated assault will be submitted to Maricopa County Attorney's Office for review, according to the release.

—————Original story below—————

Abortion-rights protesters and some of their young kids were sprayed with bear mace after Jennifer Harrison, the leader of the far-right AZ Patriots, pulled up beside them Sunday night.

The group of roughly two dozen protesters were out all night at the Tempe Beach Park Fourth of July celebration. The demonstration ended peacefully, but protesters tell ABC15 as they were walking down Mill Avenue, Harrison and her boyfriend, Michael Pavlock, pulled up beside them.

The encounter only lasted a few minutes, and video does not appear to capture the start of the interaction.

Harrison told ABC15 over the phone Monday that she acted in 'self defense.'

"I was well within my rights," said Harrison. "Protesters converged on my vehicle as I was waiting at a red light. One of them aggressively walked up to my car window...and her hand entered my vehicle. So at that point, I was well within my rights to use non-lethal force."

"No one reached in her car," said Faith Anne Penatzer, a protester who witnessed what happened.

Harrison told ABC15 Monday that the chemical agent dispersed was 'pepper spray.' Video from one week earlier though, taken by Loud Labs Arizona, shows Harrison telling another abortion-rights protester that she is holding 'bear spray' that shoots '50 [expletive] feet.'

ABC15 has not been able to obtain video of the first encounter and spray.

The second time Harrison deploys her chemicals, a protester is seen running towards the back of her car and slapping it with a flag.

"Nobody was going up to her car to assault her. We just had a torn flag that like got waved in her direction. And I think it might have like hit the back of her car," said Storm Glassheart, who caught residual spray. "She's driving, turns the corner, and sprays bear mace out of her car. So I don't really understand how she can claim self defense if she's quite literally in the process of leaving."

Glassheart and her two children, ages nine and five, all got some of the spray on their face. The mother told ABC15 they were treated on scene and then taken to a Tempe Fire station "to use their shower to kind of wash everything out."

Harrison told ABC15 there were no children 'in my direct vicinity.'

She also said she was confident she would be cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.

"The same thing happened in Phoenix when the BLM mob converged on our vehicle and I had to do same thing," said Harrison, who went on to explain that she sprayed protesters there but never was arrested.

Matt Browning, a retired Mesa police officer and expert in extremism says, "Jen is always looking for confrontation because that's how she gets views on her Facebook and YouTube."

Browning told ABC15 he will be watching to see how the case is investigated and resolved.

"I think she should be charged for aggravated assault," Browning said.

Tempe police said they have "coordinated with witnesses and victims [and] developed investigative leads. The case is now being investigated by our detectives...We will continue to monitor and hold involved parties accountable"

Meanwhile, Glassheart said she is done taking her kids to protests and is not expecting any charges.

"My kids don't blame me, but I blame myself," she said. I would like to hope that she'll face charges. I don't think that she will."