Tempe, AZ

Right-wing activist arrested in Tempe after macing abortion rights protesters

Jeremy Beren

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By Jeremy Beren / NewsBreak Pinal County, AZ

(Tempe, Ariz.) — One of Arizona's most prominent far-right provocateurs is facing disorderly conduct and assault charges stemming from an attack last weekend.

Jennifer Harrison, who leads the anti-immigration group AZ Patriots, turned herself into Tempe Police on Thursday night after the department announced it was investigating footage that shows her macing abortion rights protesters — as officers looked on from across the street.

A statement issued Thursday said the department was "actively looking" for Harrison, who was arrested around 5 p.m. and subsequently booked on the two misdemeanors.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office could levy additional aggravated assault charges, according to another, later Tempe PD statement.

At approximately 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 3, Harrison was seen from the passenger side of her car spraying a canister of what appears to be bear spray into a small crowd on the corner of Mill Avenue and University Drive. When the Arizona Republic reached her for comment, Harrison explained her sole motive was simple self-preservation.

"You can clearly see an assault against the passenger window and the stream of pepper spray deployed after the unprovoked attack," Harrison said, confirming her involvement in the incident.

Storm Glassheart, a Peoria-based organizer with the Arizona Human Rights Fighters, attended that evening's demonstration. She was heading home with her 9-year-old daughter and her 5-year-old son when the vehicle carrying Harrison pulled up.

Glassheart's explanation of the events, as well as the footage, contradicts Harrison's version of what happened.

"We were not protesting, we were not demonstrating, we were not engaging in any kind of political activity at that moment. Our protest had ended," Glassheart said via TikTok. "We walked to CVS to get refreshments, and we were leaving."

But Harrison is convinced she'll escape serious punishment for her actions.

"This was self-defense. I have an attorney, and we are confident that we'll see this through," Harrison told the Arizona Republic.

This is not Harrison's first time running afoul of the law — and it's also not the first time she's maced protesters in her vicinity.

Harrison was arrested in Surprise three years ago on suspicion of identity theft, with a spokesperson telling the Phoenix New Times that Harrison had used a chunk of her ex-father-in-law's hotel reward points to book a room under his name in California. She then attended and later profiled the three-day Aftershock music festival.

The following year, Harrison made a deal with prosecutors to avoid felony identity theft charges. Her case was dismissed last year.

Harrison's appearance at a Tucson City Council meeting, also in 2019, was what introduced her to a larger audience in the first place. People's Defense Initiative organizer Alex Kack — more popularly known as "Green Shirt Guy" — was filmed laughing at Harrison and another AZ Patriots member, who interrupted that evening's proceedings to protest Tucson's proposed sanctuary city law. Voters ultimately rejected the measure.

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Jeremy is a freelance journalist covering health, energy, labor, and local politics. Reach him at jeremy.beren@newsbreak.com.

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