Women arrested after posting video insulting Muslims at Tempe mosque
PHOENIX — Two women who were seen in a Facebook video uttering anti-Muslim vitriol while removing flyers and brochures from a suburban Phoenix mosque have been arrested.
Tempe police spokeswoman Lily Duran said Tahnee Gonzales and Elizabeth Dauenhauer were being booked into a city jail Thursday afternoon on suspicion of third-degree burglary.
Police said the women posted a video online apparently showed them insulting Muslims at a Tempe mosque with their children in tow.
Duran said if they are convicted, their sentencing could be enhanced if they were seen as perpetrating a hate crime.
The video was posted on Facebook on March 4 but was later removed. Snippets (WARNING: LINK CONTAINS FOUL LANGUAGE) of it were reposted by others on the social media site.
Videos that were publicly available Thursday showed the women and their children mocking the contents of a van parked outside of the Islamic Community Center near Mill Avenue and University Drive.
The pair, along with their children, were heard mocking items found in the van, which was labeled “ICC Funeral Procession.”
“There’s one of those Mexican hats and some trash bags,” one of the women, likely Dauenhaeur, said. “A sombrero.”
The other woman who posted the deleted video, Gonzales, laughed before telling some children to get off the van.
“You don’t know what filth is on there,” she said.
When a man stepped out of the mosque, a dog belonging to one of the women approached him and the pair began yelling insults.
“Peanut, get back here,” one woman said to the dog. “They’ll eat you.”
The man and women argued for a short time. The women accused Muslims of forcing child marriages and conducting sex acts with animals.
The video ends with an argument about the histories of the Islamic and Christian faiths.
Mosque officials filed a police report after learning of the video last week and said they want the suspects charged with a hate crime.
Court documents said the women entered the mosque despite the “no trespassing signs” and removed several items, including educational fliers, pamphlets, calendars, air fresheners, Qurans and other items for the members of the church.
The pair will appear in court on March 29.
Senate candidate Deedra Abboud claimed in a post (WARNING: LINK CONTAINS FOUL LANGUAGE) that she had previously been confronted by Gonzales. A video accompanying the post showed a woman yelling anti-Muslim remarks at someone who appeared to be Abboud.
Worshippers at the Islamic Community Center are used to harassment, Imam Ahmad Alakoum said. Someone rants or desecrates a copy of the Quran from the sidewalk, where it’s public property, almost weekly.
He advised community members to simply not engage. But seeing the children in this video join with the adults was especially stinging.
“I was disturbed and heartbroken seeing those kids being dragged behind their mothers and being given firsthand lessons on hate,” Alakoum said.
Both Gonzales and Dauenhaeur were previously affiliated with the Patriot Movement AZ group.
Some members of the organization were accused last month of asking lawmakers about their immigration status outside the Arizona Capitol Building, a claim the group denied.
In a Facebook post, the group said both women were not members and that it did not condone their actions.
“Especially in such tumultuous times where the people of this country are so polarized, we have an obligation even to those we strongly oppose to hold higher standards,” the post read.
The mosque posted that it would hold an educational event Saturday in response to the video.
“At this event, we will have speakers from the interfaith community, allies and elected officials who wish to speak up in support of the Muslim community,” the event listing read.
In a statement, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt 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. But to involve young children and to indoctrinate them with their hate is abhorrent,” Greenblatt said.
“ADL stands with our brothers and sisters in the Muslim community and condemns this intolerable behavior.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.