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Far-right leader arrested in pepper spray attack in Tempe

A group of protesters was sprayed with mace after concluding an abortion rights rally in Tempe Sunday night.

TEMPE, Ariz. — The leader of the far-right group AZ Patriots, Jennifer Harrison, turned herself into Tempe police after they connected her to a pepper spray attack on pro-choice protesters last weekend.

Harrison self-surrendered about three hours after the department said they were “actively attempting to locate” her in a statement published on Twitter.

The arrest came five days after a group of people—who had been protesting the recent Supreme Court decision that overturned abortion rights—was standing outside a CVS pharmacy on Mill Avenue and University Drive.

The activist group, Human Rights Fighters, said the attack was unprovoked, as they had wrapped up for the night on July 2. At least two children and numerous adults were sprayed.

“It stinged, like if you got stung by a bee,” said 9-year-old Haili Glassheart. “Aiden was actually sobbing, it burned him.”

Aiden is Haili’s 5-year-old brother who was also sprayed. They, along with their mom, had to be taken to a fire station to be treated.

“Self-defense was my only concern”

In a now-deleted statement on Twitter, Harrison admitted deploying mace twice against the crowd in Tempe.

“A woman from the crowd of protesters aggressively rushed toward the vehicle, screaming something directed at Jennifer, hands raised and flying around as she entered the street and reached her hand into the open window of the vehicle,” the statement said. “Jennifer then deployed one small burst of pepper spray in self-defense.”

The second round of pepper spray was deployed when a second person allegedly “approached the vehicle with arms raised in a striking motion lunging towards the vehicle with something in hand, swinging it toward Jennifer through the open window, striking the vehicle instead.”

Credit: 12 News

Harrison also apologized to Storm Glassheart, Haili and Aiden’s mother, on Twitter for injuring her children.

“I did not get it while it was still on my Twitter because she deleted it that quickly,” Glassheart said. “When I did read through the screenshot, it started really nice, with what sounded very sincere and then quickly evolving.”

A screenshot of the tweet read in part “I do sincerely apologize… self-defense was my only concern in the moment, and I would’ve aimed better hand I saw a child.”

Harrison was booked for assault and disorderly conduct and could also face aggravated assault charges.

“Just incredibly full of rage,” Glassheart said about Harrisons’ self-defense claim. “I was right there that night, my children were there that night, my children were not a threat to her, I was not a threat to her. The only danger that was in that area that night was her.”

A member of the group protesting was booked and released, charged with disorderly conduct in connection to the incident.

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