A woman who brought her three children along with her to an ugly, hate-fueled incident at an Arizona mosque earlier this month has been hit with charges of child endangerment in addition to other charges.
Tahnee Gonzales, 32, was arrested on March 15 along with another woman, Elizabeth Dauenhauer, 51, on suspicion of burglary for taking items from the Islamic Community Center of Tempe, Arizona. Both women have ties to the group Patriot Movement AZ (PMAZ), which has engaged in anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant activism.
Gonzales posted video of the March 4 incident live to her Facebook page, showing that she and her three children, along with Dauenhauer, walked past “no trespassing” signs and into a gated area of the mosque and started removing items, including pamphlets and what they said were copies of the Quran.
Gonzales and Dauenhauer could be seen on the video encouraging the children to participate removing the items and using anti-Muslim slurs. Gonzales could also be seen at one point shouting slurs at a man who walked out of a building at the mosque. Police said after the arrests that even though Arizona has no standalone hate crimes charges, the women could face enhanced sentences if convicted because of the anti-Muslim nature of the incident.
On Thursday, March 22, a grand jury in Maricopa County, Arizona stuck Gonzales with six charges — two felonies and four misdemeanors — and Dauenhauer with a pair of felonies.
Both women were charged with third-degree burglary and aggravated criminal damage. But Gonzales also received a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct as well as three misdemeanor charges of child endangerment.
Gonzales and Dauenhauer had both been involved in the past year with events organized by Patriot Movement AZ. Among those events, Gonzales was present for at least one anti-Muslim rally organized by the group’s leader, Lesa Antone, in June 2017 in Phoenix.
As recently as March 11, a week after the mosque incident, both women took part in a protest alongside Antone and other members of PMAZ outside a speech by Sen. Bernie Sanders in downtown Phoenix.
Since then, Patriot Movement AZ has worked to distance itself from the women. But the group’s statements about their level of involvement with the organization have shifted in the days since the arrests. PMAZ has gone from describing the women as having “previously been affiliated” with the group to saying that Gonzales was never affiliated and that Dauenhauer was removed as a member to saying that PMAZ has no formal membership at all.
Patriot Movement AZ has denounced the incident at the mosque, but it has not backed away from its own extremist views of the Muslim faith.
“We oppose the principals of Sharia Law,” Antone wrote recently in response to someone defending Gonzales on Facebook after the arrests. “But we do NOT attack the individual. It isn’t about people. It’s about the ideations, the socialist policies, the Social Marxist culture, etc.”
Gonzales and Dauenhauer were released from jail without having to post bail, but they were required to wear electronic monitors. The conditions of their release prohibit them from possessing any weapons and require them to stay away from the mosque and its members.
The pair are scheduled on Thursday, March 29, to be in court in Mesa, Arizona for a status conference and then on April 5 for a preliminary hearing.