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Extremist says she used ‘bear spray’ on a protester, threatens to ‘start shooting’

By: - June 3, 2020 10:42 pm

Protesters confront Jennifer Harrison and Michael Pavlock. Screenshot via Facebook

Extremist, provocateur and Republican Party precinct committeewoman Jennifer Harrison said she used “bear spray” on a protester in Phoenix during a confrontation after Harrison shouted “black rifles matter” and “pants up, don’t loot” at the marchers Wednesday evening. 

She also ruminated on her willingness to run over protesters if she felt threatened and said she had told police she would “start shooting” if they didn’t help her leave the protest area.

Harrison, the founder and leader of AZ Patriots, an extremist group designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group, has garnered attention in recent years for acts like dumping trash at the Arizona Democratic Party headquarters and harassing Phoenix-area churches for helping Latino asylum-seekers.

Those churches sued Harrison and other members of extremist “patriot” groups for harassment; the suit was settled, and Harrison and the others agreed to delete harassing social media postings and stay away from the churches. 

Prior to the incident, Harrison and her boyfriend, Michael Pavlock, had been driving by people demonstrating about the police killings of Dion Johnson and George Floyd and using a megaphone to yell antagonistic slogans at those marching. The armed pair live-streamed on Facebook as they went. 

“Grow up girls, think for yourselves,” Harrison yelled at one group of marchers, later thanking police as they drove by. 

At one point, Harrison and Pavlock arrived at a one-way street which was closed partially as marchers walked by and Harrison began shouting slogans out of the car’s passenger window with the megaphone. 

Eventually, some protesters broke off from the group and began approaching the extremists. At the same time, a person from the vehicle in front of Harrison and Pavlock got out of their car and approached them. 

Things quickly escalated. 

“You’re going to get sprayed!” Harrison yelled. 

“You’re going to get shot!” Pavlock yelled, telling Harrison to “spray ‘em!” 

After more shouting, the video cut out suddenly. Harrison returned several minutes later in a separate livestream to give an explanation of what happened. 

She said a female protester tried to reach into their car to grab a sign that said “thank you Phoenix Police,” at which point Harrison sprayed her with “bear spray.” 

“I sprayed a little, she ran off,” Harrison said, adding that the protesters started “hurling” things at the car. 

Harrison then compared the situation to the 2017 murder of Heather Heyer, in which a white supremacist drove his car into a group of anti-racist demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia. Heyer, 32-year-old, was killed and 28 others were injured. The driver, James Alex Fields Jr., was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

“The only thing that kept flashing through my mind was that protest in Charlottesville where that guy, you know, hit the… gas and plowed over a protester,” Harrison said. 

She doesn’t condone violence, she said, though she added, “but if it came down to protecting myself, my boyfriend, you’re damn right I’m going to hit that gas pedal.” 

“I had bear spray and my firearm, take your pick,” she said later. 

Harrison said that Phoenix police officers were on the scene and that she had told them that if they did not help them get out, she would “have to start shooting.” 

The Phoenix Police Department said it was not immediately able to comment or provide information about the incident.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joined the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.