TACOMA, Wash. – Early Saturday morning, Seattle man Willem Van Spronsen attacked an ICE detention center in Tacoma, Washington and threw incendiary devices in an apparent attempt to set the facility on fire, Tacoma Police spokeswoman Loretta Cool surmised. Antifascist Action (ANTIFA) posted a public tribute to Van Spronsen painting him as a valiant martyr who gave his life to the greater good, calling him “kind and deeply loved”.
However, as facts come to light, a very different portrait of the 69-year-old has emerged.
Deb Bartley, a twenty year friend of the deceased received a farewell letter prior to Saturday’s attack on police, according to 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” she reflected. She also described his writings as a manifesto.
“I regret that I will miss the rest of the revolution,” Van Spronsen reportedly wrote. “Doing what I can to help defend my precious and wondrous people is an experience too rich to describe. I am Antifa.”
“I strongly encourage comrades and incoming comrades to arm themselves,” he wrote.
At approximately 4 a.m. on Saturday morning, just a few hours after a peaceful protest had concluded, Tacoma Police Department responded to a call of an attack at Tacoma Northwest Detention Center. The detention center houses more than 1,500 detainees who are awaiting deportment, according to the Los Angeles Times. Tacoma Police arrived to find a man throwing incendiary devices at the facility. He was also armed with a rifle. Van Spronsen had managed to ignite a vehicle and was attempting to also detonate a large propane tank. Police believe he was wanted to additionally set buildings on fire. The police responded to the man’s attacks with gunfire, killing him.
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This was not the first time that Van Spronsen drew media attention for assaulting police… at the very same detention center in Tacoma. According to the Seattle Times, it’s been only a little over a year since his last assault at the same facility in June of 2018. Van Spronsen alleged that he was attempting to free a protester when he assaulted an officer, reportedly wrapping his arms around the officer’s neck and shoulders. Nearby officers were able to subdue the attacker who struggled to elude handcuffs. Once subdued, officers found a collapsible baton and folding knife concealed on Van Spronsen, the News Tribune reported. Van Spronsen faced charges of third-degree assault, resisting arrest and obstructing police. Van Spronsen plead not guilty and was released from Pierce County Jail on his own recognizance, according to the News Tribune.
Puget Sound Anarchists, a site which describes itself as a venue for anarchists and anti-authoritarians, posted an anonymous memorial of Van Spronsen on their website Saturday saying “We are grief stricken, inspired and enraged by what occurred early this morning. “ They further stated “Will was simply a human being, and we wish that he was still with us. It’s doubtless that the cops and the media will attempt to paint him as some sort of monster, but in reality he was a comrade who fought for many years for what he believed in and this morning he was killed doing what he loved; fighting for a better world.”
Van Spronsen is now responsible for another attack, which could have resulted in tragedy not only for law enforcement but also detainees, had the madman’s efforts to set the facility ablaze been successful.
Here is my video which captures Willem van Spronsen, the JBGC antifa militia member who was killed yesterday outside the Tacoma, Washington ICE facility. Police say he arrived with a rifle & began to firebomb the place & attempted to make a tank explode. pic.twitter.com/kPPlyiwVZl
— Andy Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) July 14, 2019
According to Politico, GEO Group, which manages the detention center, released a statement via email condemning un-based accusations regarding conditions in the centers, saying political misrepresentations “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.”
Click here to read Van Spronsen’s entire manifesto.