Tahnee Gonzales and Elizabeth Dauenhauer were arrested on Thursday and charged with third degree burglary after stealing items from a mosque and streaming the entirety of it on Facebook. Officials at the Islamic Community Center filed a report when they saw the video. According to CNN, this will be considered as a hate crime during sentencing. “Based on the details of the crime, an enhancement of hate crime will be considered for sentencing,” Tempe Police spokeswoman Lily Duran told CNN.
The two Arizona women took their three children along with plans to “expose the mosque.” Upon arrival, their plans to vandalize a mosque included ripping flyers off the bulletin boards and stealing items. And then they praised the children for burglary. Throughout the video, the women encourage the children to use derogatory, racist, and Islamophobic language. At one point in the videos, the young girl is heard telling one of the boys, “Be careful, the Muslims are waiting to rape you.”
A group called the Patriot Movement AZ (PMAZ) said on Facebook that Dauenhauer was a former member but attempted to distance themselves from the group’s actions. They reported that Dauenhauer was removed from the group “based on behavior.” The group posted on Facebook saying, “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.”
Although the PMAZ is distancing themselves from the actions of the women, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes, told CNN that “PMAZ has a history of anti-Muslim rhetoric and its members have engaged in anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim activities.”
In addition to this, one of the women, Tahnee Gonzalez, has harassed Arizona Senate candidate Deedra Abboud in a separate event. Abboud posted a video of the incident on Facebook on Wednesday. In the video, a woman who Abboud has identified as Gonzalez can be heard yelling, “Deedra Abboud supports Muslims who hate America!” It should be noted that Deedra Abboud is a visibly Muslim woman running for office in the Trump era America.
Hate crimes against Muslims have risen since 2015, at this point it is at an all-time high since 2001 after the September 11 terrorist attacks. So the hatred spewed in these videos, while saddening, is not surprising. The most disheartening part about this is that young children are being taught to be hateful, and intolerant.