(TMU) — A 69-year-old activist was shot and killed by police outside of a detention center in Tacoma, Washington last week. Willem Van Spronsen was reportedly armed with a rifle while throwing incendiary devices at the immigration prison when he was shot and killed.
Police say that Spronsen set a vehicle on fire and was attempting to ignite a propane tank next to one of the buildings.
Police spokesman Loretta Cool told KOMO News that all four officers on the scene fired their weapons, killing Spronsen almost immediately. Cool did not say that Spronsen fired on the officers, only that the officers called out to him before opening fire.
The incident occurred roughly six hours after a peaceful demonstration took place in front of the same facility. Another rally was scheduled to take place after the shooting but was later moved to a different location.
GEO Group, who owns the detention center, blamed the media for the shooting in an email to the Associated Press. The email stated that reports of the current conditions within the detention centers “have led to misplaced aggression and a dangerous environment for our employees, whose safety is our top priority. Violence of any kind against our employees and property will not be tolerated. We are thankful for the quick and brave action by the Tacoma Police Department, which prevented innocent lives from being endangered.”
GEO Group has denied accusations that detainees are being treated inhumanely, insisting that the facility in Tacoma has air conditioning, individuals bed and medical services for every single detainee.
Shortly after his death, Spronsen was identified as an anarchist by the friends that he left behind.
In a statement about the shooting, Puget Sound Anarchists said:
“We find his actions inspiring. The vehicles outside the detention facility are used to forcibly remove people from their homes and deport them, often to situations where they will face severe danger or death. Those vehicles being destroyed is only a start of what is needed. We wish the fires Will set had freed all the inmates and razed the entire Northwest Detention Center to the ground. And we miss our friend and wish from the bottom of our hearts that his action had not ended in his death.”
The lengthy statement went on to describe Spronsen as a long-time anarchist who was involved with numerous protests in Washington state over the years. Last summer, Spronsen was reportedly accused of lunging at a police officer and wrapping his arms around the officer’s neck and shoulders in order to prevent the officer from arresting a 17-year-old.
Spronsen’s friend, Deb Bartley told the Seattle Times:
“He was ready to end it. I think this was a suicide. But then he was able to kind of do it in a way that spoke to his political beliefs … I know he went down there knowing he was going to die.”
Spronsen’s final statement, an audio manifesto, is below:
There’s wrong and there’s right.
It’s time to take action against the forces of evil.
Evil says one life is worth less than another.
Evil says the flow of commerce is our purpose here.
Evil says concentration camps for folks deemed lesser are necessary.
The handmaid of evil says the concentration camps should be more humane.
Beware the centrist.
I have a father’s broken heart
I have a broken down body
And I have an unshakable abhorrence for injustice
That is what brings me here.
This is my clear opportunity to try to make a difference, I’d be an ingrate to be waiting for a more obvious invitation.
I follow three teachers:
Don Pritts, my spiritual guide. “Love without action is just a word.”
John Brown, my moral guide. “What is needed is action!”
Emma Goldman, my political guide. “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution.”
I’m a head in the clouds dreamer, I believe in love and redemption.
I believe we’re going to win.
I’m joyfully revolutionary. (We all should have been reading Emma Goldman in school instead of the jingo drivel we were fed, but I digress.) (We should all be looking at the photos of the YPG heroes should we falter and think our dreams are impossible, but I double digress. Fight me.)
In these days of fascist hooligans preying on vulnerable people in our streets, in the name of the state or supported and defended by the state,
In these days of highly profitable detention/concentration camps and a battle over the semantics,
In these days of hopelessness, empty pursuit and empty yearning,
We are living in visible fascism ascendant. (I say visible, because those paying attention watched it survive and thrive under the protection of the state for decades. [See Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States.] Now it unabashedly follows its agenda with open and full cooperation from the government. From governments around the world.
Fascism serves the needs of the state serves the needs of business and at your expense. Who benefits? Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, Elon Musk, Tim Cook, Bill Gates, Betsy de Vos, George Soros, Donald Trump, and need I go on? Let me say it again: rich guys (who think you’re not really all that good), really dig government (every government everywhere, including “communist” governments), because they make the rules that make rich guys richer.
Don’t overthink it.
(Are you patriots in the back paying attention?)
When I was a boy, in post-war Holland, later France, my head was filled with stories of the rise of fascism in the ’30s. I promised myself that I would not be one of those who stands by as neighbors are torn from their homes and imprisoned for somehow being perceived as lesser.
You don’t have to burn the motherfucker down, but are you going to just stand by?
This is the test of our fundamental belief in real freedom and our responsibility to each other.
This is a call to patriots, too, to stand against this travesty against everything that you hold sacred. I know you. I know that in your hearts, you see the dishonor in these camps. It’s time for you, too, to stand up to the money pulling the strings of every goddamn puppet pretending to represent us.
I’m a man who loves you all and this spinning ball so much that I’m going to fulfill my childhood promise to myself to be noble.
Here it is, in these corporate for profit concentration camps.
Here it is, in Brown and non-conforming folks afraid to show their faces for fear of the police/migra/Proud Boys/the boss/beckies…
Here it is, a planet almost used up by the market’s greed.
I’m a black and white thinker.
Detention camps are an abomination.
I’m not standing by.
I really shouldn’t have to say any more than this.
I set aside my broken heart and I heal the only way I know how—by being useful.
I efficiently compartmentalize my pain…
And I joyfully go about this work.
(To those burdened with the wreckage from my actions, I hope that you will make the best use of that burden.)
To my comrades:
I regret that I will miss the rest of the revolution.
Thank you for the honor of having me in your midst.
Giving me space to be useful, to feel that I was fulfilling my ideals, has been the spiritual pinnacle of my life.
Doing what I can to help defend my precious and wondrous people is an experience too rich to describe.
My trans comrades have transformed me, solidifying my conviction that we will be guided to a dreamed-of future by those most marginalized among us today. I have dreamed it so clearly that I have no regret for not seeing how it turns out. Thank you for bringing me so far along.
I am antifa. I stand with comrades around the world who act from the love of life in every permutation. Comrades who understand that freedom means real freedom for all and a life worth living.
Keep the faith!
All power to the people!
Don’t let your silly government agencies spend money “investigating” this one. I was radicalized in civics class at 13 when we were taught about the electoral college. It was at that point that I decided that the status quo might be a house of cards. Further reading confirmed in the positive. I highly recommend reading!
I am not affiliated with any organization, I have disaffiliated from any organizations who disagree with my choice of tactics.
The semi-automatic weapon I used was a cheap, home-built unregistered “ghost” AR-15, it had six magazines. I strongly encourage comrades and incoming comrades to arm themselves. We are now responsible for defending people from the predatory state. Ignore the law in arming yourself if you have the luxury, I did.