ARIZONA — Two women were arrested Thursday after allegedly stealing items from an Arizona mosque and broadcasting the whole episode on Facebook Live, police say. In the videos, the women, with three children in tow, can be heard unleashing a steady stream of invective against Muslims.
Tahnee Gonzales and Elizabeth Dauenhauer have been charged with third degree burglary, a felony, police in Tempe said.
“Based on the details of the crime, an enhancement of hate crime will be considered for sentencing,” Tempe Police spokeswoman Lily Duran told CNN in a statement. “Pamphlets and literature from the mosque were stolen.”
Gonzales did not respond to requests for comment. We were unable to reach Dauenhauer.
In the videos, the two women can be seen bringing the children to the Islamic Community Center of Tempe and narrating what they describe as their attempts to expose “Sharia law in America” and “the illegal invasion of Muslims.”
They can be seen picking up pamphlets and literature from outdoor stands as they walk the property of the mosque, even encouraging their dog to urinate on the property.
It’s unclear on the video what the group had allegedly stolen to warrant charges.
They refer to themselves in the videos as “patriots” and “infidels,” and say they are removing items from the mosque to expose “the infiltration of the Arabic Muslims coming in and destroying America.”
A 24-minute video full of hate
“The Muslims are nothing but devil, Satan worshipers,” one of the women says at the mosque, pointing at flyers on a community message board at the mosque.
At least one of the children seems to take the message to heart. “They smell like goat,” the child can be heard saying.
“Exactly! They smell like goat,” Gonzales responds.
“Mommy, they buy their chicken to rape it,” the child says.
At one point, toward the end of the approximately 24 minute video, the women can be seen berating an unidentified man, who comes out from the mosque, with insults and epithets.
“We’re trying to be peaceful,” he can be heard telling them.
“You have no idea what you’re talking about,” he says.
The video abruptly cuts off in the middle of the exchange with the man.
Mosque members are ‘scared and very disturbed’
Officials at the Islamic Community Center filed a police report when they saw the video. Imam Ahmad Al-Akoum, the interfaith and outreach director for the Islamic Community Center, talked to CNN about the video. He said they handed over their buildings’ surveillance video to the police as well as the Facebook footage.
“Some of our members are scared and very disturbed and disgusted with the situation. As for myself I am very saddened that those women are dragging their young innocent children into this and teaching them to hate,” he said. “Those children are being given false information. I am so sad for them.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, a group that tracks hate crimes, called the videos “extremely disturbing and ugly on so many levels.”
“It’s bad enough that these individuals felt emboldened to go to this mosque and threaten the security of those peacefully practicing their religion,” Greenblatt says. “But to involve young children and to indoctrinate them with their hate is abhorrent.”
A group called the Patriot Movement AZ, or PMAZ, said on Facebook that one of the women was a former member, but distanced itself from the pair’s actions, saying Dauenhauer was a former member who was removed more than two weeks ago “based on her behavior.”
Gonzales was never a member, the group said. “PMAZ condemns anyone who would harass, demean, bully … PMAZ members are at all times required to be law-abiding citizens; the actions of these women are in violation of everything for which PMAZ stands,” the posting said.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes, told CNN that “even though Patriot Movement AZ is distancing itself from Tahnee Gonzales and Elizabeth Dauenhauer, PMAZ has a history of anti-Muslim rhetoric and its members have engaged in anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim activities.” The group has posted statements with anti-Muslim rhetoric on its Facebook and Twitter pages.
Muslim Senate candidate confronted
Arizona Senate candidate Deedra Abboud posted a video of a separate incident to Facebook on Wednesday that she says also involved Gonzales.
“Deedra Abboud supports Muslims who hate America!” a woman, who Abboud identifies as Gonzales, can be heard belligerently screaming at the candidate in the clip. Abboud is Muslim and wears a hijab.
“Deedra Abboud, you aren’t going to make it. God is going to strike her down!”
A woman with a child who is standing with Abboud tells the screaming woman to go away. She continues screaming, and her child joins in. The other child begins to cry and clutches her mother.
“You made this little girl cry,” Abboud says.
Abboud walks away but the woman can be heard yelling: “Quit trying to sympathize and be victims. You’re not. We’re the victims in America, not you!”
“Victims! Victims! Victims!” the woman screams.
“She sells out the Muslim infiltration of America,” the woman can be heard saying to a passerby.
Abboud says she posted the video for a reason.
“I don’t usually share negativity on my FB because I prefer to focus on solutions. However, I am sharing this video because the end hasn’t been seen and demonstrates that this is just about hating,” Abboud wrote in a Facebook post accompanying the clip.