Two women affiliated with the group Patriot Movement AZ (PMAZ) were arrested Thursday, March 15, on felony charges with a possible hate crimes enhancement for an incident earlier this month at a mosque in Tempe, Arizona.
Police in Tempe told the Southern Poverty Law Center that Tahnee Gonzales and Elizabeth “Liz” Dauenhauer were arrested at about 3 p.m. Arizona time on suspicion of burglary for the incident at the Islamic Community Center of Tempe.
Gonzales posted video of the March 4 episode live to her Facebook page, showing her and Dauenhauer entering the grounds of the mosque with three of Gonzales’s children and two dogs in tow. The group took literature from a gated-off area of the mosque and then began shouting at a man who came out of a building. Gonzales could be heard on the video shouting anti-Muslim slurs at the man.
Tempe police spokesperson Det. Lily Duran told the SPLC that the burglary charge is considered a class 6 felony and that police will be recommending a hate crimes enhancement for sentencing should the women be found guilty. Duran said Arizona has no independent hate crimes charges but that it could added as an enhancement for sentencing.
In the video, which has since been removed from Gonzales’s page, the group can be seen encountering a sign on a gate at the mosque that read “No Firearms Allowed.
Gonzales paused and said to her son: “I’ve got to take my gun — my — out of my backpack. Go take it back. Go take it back to the —”
She muttered something else to her son. Then upon entering through the gate, which also had a “No Trespassing” sign on it, she told Dauenhauer, “I had my — I had Betty on me, so I had to put Betty away.”
Perhaps the most disturbing element of the video, was that Gonzales repeatedly encouraged her children to use anti-Muslim slurs and rhetoric while they were at the mosque.
As she filmed the group taking leaflets and other items from outside the mosque, one of the children could be heard saying something about how things smelled.
“Exactly!” Gonzales said. “They smell like goats.”
Gonzales then picked up a handful of items that were in a box, which she said appeared to be air fresheners.
“We’re going to wipe poop all over these,” Gonzales said, laughing. She also admonished her children not to touch anything because of “germs.”
Dauenhauer was shown on the video removing pieces of paper from a bulletin board announcing upcoming events in the local Islamic community.
“This is the infiltration of the Arabic Muslim coming in and destroying America,” Gonzales said in the video. “Muslims are nothing but devil Satan worshipers.”
Gonzales also told her son, who is middle school aged, to help Dauenhauer take pamphlets from the mosque.
“Try to grab two of everything on here,” Dauenhauer told the boy, pointing to a rack of leaflets. “Start from the bottom.”
After putting the items they’d taken in their vehicle, they decided to walk around the buildings some more. They let a small dog they had with them roam the grounds unleashed.
“Good job. Good job, Peanut,” Gonzales said to the dog as it peed on a tree on the grounds of the mosque. “Way to pee on that. … We should have brought all the dogs. They all could have peed all over.”
Gonzales and Dauenhauer looked at what appeared to be Arabic writing on the side of the mosque, and though they couldn’t read it, speculated about what it said.
“It says ‘I love Satan and I worship the Antichrist,’” Dauenhauer joked.
At one point, the group walked by a van with markings that read “ICC Funeral Procession.” Gonzales’s son climbed up on the rear bumper to peer inside.
“Get off that,” Gonzales told her son. “You don’t know what filth is on there.”
“Yeah, dead Muslims have been on there,” Dauenhauer said.
“Yeah, goats — all their sex goats in there,” Gonzales said.
A few moments later, a man stepped out of one of the buildings on the campus. The group’s dog ran up to greet him, and the man leaned down to pet it.
“Stay away from our dogs, please! Don’t eat them!” Gonzales shouted at the man. “Hey, don’t touch! Don’t touch! Don’t pet! No touch!”
“Peanut, get back here,” Gonzales said, snapping her fingers. “They eat you! C’mon, they eat you. Get away from ‘em.”
Gonzales began to berate the man with slurs, saying that Islam was anti-American and that “pedophile runs deep in the Muslim community.” She told him that “we the people” were coming after them and that she would “expose” them.
“You guys encourage marriages of 9-year-old children. You guys even rape goats. That’s how sick they are,” Gonzales shouted at the man.
She then mentioned her young daughter, who was with her.
“Look, my daughter, in Sharia, she would be a bride. That’s how sick your guys’s —" she shouted before moving onto something else.
She continued shouting at the man, but the video eventually ended midway through her confrontation with him.
In another video posted live to Facebook later that day, Gonzales started asking her young daughter about Sharia law, an Islamic concept that has been the basis of lots of conspiracy theories in the anti-Muslim fringe.
“At my age,” the girl said to the camera, “the old men are allowed to marry young kids at my age.”
“See that? Good, I’m glad you know,” Gonzales told her daughter. “Keep children informed and aware so that they don’t be sucked into the evils that lurk around in our own communities and our own backyard.”
Gonzales then went on to lecture her viewers on Facebook with her anti-Muslim slurs, saying that Muslims rape boys, girls and goats.
“They’ll rape anything!” the girl chimed in.
“They’ll rape anything,” Gonzales repeated back to her.
Video of the incident remained on Gonzales’ Facebook page for several days.
Then on Tuesday, March 13, the website HateHurts, which is run by the Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, posted an article about the video under the headline, “Teaching Hate: AZ Patriot group trespasses inside mosque, encouraging children to vilify Muslims.”
Police told the SPLC they had been investigating the incident since March 5, which a police report was filed. It’s unclear who filed the report.
The SPLC had reached out to the Islamic Community Center of Tempe on March 5 after seeing the video online. At the time, a woman who spoke to the SPLC said the mosque was unaware of the video and therefore could not comment.
The SPLC sent a copy of the video to the woman at the Islamic Community Center that same day.
On Thursday, the imam of the mosque told the Arizona Republic that he had “mixed emotions” about the arrests.
“I really hate for people to be in trouble with the law,” Ahmad Al-Akoum told the newspaper. “However, I think the lesson needs to be taught to everybody who feels they’re entitled to infringe on other people’s properties and rights. People need to learn.”
The group that the women are tied to, Patriot Movement AZ, has tried to distance itself from them in recent days after their actions began to spread online.
In a Facebook post on Monday, March 12, PMAZ wrote:
Recently two persons who had previously been affiliated with us have crossed a line that violates our principles and beliefs.
They continue to show up where we are, but they do not represent us. They are not part of us.
PMAZ stands firmly against racism, bigotry, and anyone who harrasses people based on sexual orientation. Those representing PMAZ are at all times law-abiding, too.
The actions of one bad apple makes all of us look bad. It is extremely disappointing and while we cannot tell anyone how to behave, we also need to have clear separation and call out bad behaviors.
PMAZ declined to mention the names of the people they were talking about, but on Wednesday, March 14, the organization wrote a follow up post disclosing it was Gonzales and Dauenhauer.
PMAZ said in multiple Twitter posts that although the group had no formal membership roster, it had considered Dauenhauer to be a member, though not Gonzales.
Gonzales, however, had been involved in past PMAZ activities, including a protest in January at the state capitol, where the group was accused of shouting things like “illegal” and “go home” at numerous people, including legislative staffers and a Navajo lawmaker.
Both women were also present during a PMAZ protest outside a speech given by Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday, March 11. Gonzales had two of her children with her at the protest and could be seen in online videos encouraging them to shout at Sanders supporters.
The protest included multiple members of PMAZ and allies from California, including a patriot activist who recently said he was prepared “to die right here and now” and become a “martyr” for his cause.
[[This post was updated on March 16]]