Tempe police investigating after protestors pepper-sprayed by passenger in car

In a video captured by protestors, the car with Harrison and another man inside turns the corner, and pepper spray is fired into the crowd.
Published: Jul. 4, 2022 at 5:35 PM MST
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TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Police say an investigation is underway after a passenger in a car pepper-sprayed protestors Sunday night in Tempe. Officers say around 9:30 p.m., a group of protestors was gathered at the corner of Mill Avenue and University Drive when a car pulled up and the passenger was seen on video pepper-spraying the crowd. Tempe Fire and Medical were quickly called out to treat four people hit by the pepper spray. One person had to be taken to the hospital.

According to witnesses, the crowd and the founder of far-right group AZ Patriots, Jennifer Harrison, got into a confrontation. In a video captured by one protestor, the car with Harrison and another man inside turns the corner, and pepper spray is fired into the crowd. Another video then shows several people cleaning spray off a child’s face. Tempe police did not confirm if Harrison was involved or if she was the one who fired the spray.

Vivika Lofton was one of the few hospitalized. Lofton believes it wasn’t pepper spray but instead bear spray. She says she’s feeling better despite the incident and will be at Monday night’s protest. “For me, protesting...bad things are going to happen. Everyone’s going to hate what you do, no matter how you do it or how you say it, but it’s important to me and my family. It’s what we believe in to protest for everybody’s rights,” she said.

Police say the car left the area before officers arrived. “We will continue to monitor, and hold involved parties accountable,” said Tempe police in a statement on Monday afternoon. The investigation is ongoing.