The armed man shot and killed while attacking a Tacoma, Wash., Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center was identified by a friend as an anarchist and an antifascist.
And while Willem Van Spronsen is being revered in Antifa circles as a hero, it’s being reported the 69-year-old man was arrested last year at the same facility for attacking a police officer.
Armed with a rifle, Van Spronsen was killed after reportedly throwing “incendiary devices” at the detention center and propane tanks nearby — he also set a car on fire.
It is not know if he fired at officers in the assault, which occurred a 4 a.m.
The attack coming as the Democratic Party and its media allies have lit a firestorm in the country over the detention of illegal immigrants, as the southern border has been overwhelmed by tens of thousands of migrants a month from Central America.
Deb Bartley told the Seattle Times she was friends with Van Spronsen for about 20 years and described him as an anarchist and anti-fascist.
Speaking of a letter Van Spronsen sent her and others, in which he was “just saying goodbye,” Bartley believes he intended to die in the attack on the detention center.
“He was ready to end it,” Bartley said. “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 also said Van Spronsen wrote what she called a manifesto, according to the Times. Bartley did not shared any details of what it contained, but predicted it would be taken by authorities.
It’s likely instructive that she opted not to offer any details on the message, although there was a $1,000 offer from conservative personality Jack Posobiec for a copy of the manifesto.
Turns out, Van Spronsen was arrested at a 2018 protest outside the same Tacoma facility.
With a collapsible baton and knife on his person, the anarchist wrapped his arms around a police officer’s throat and shoulders in an apparent attempt to free another protester, the Times reported.
More from the newspaper:
In court documents, Van Spronsen was accused of lunging at a police officer’s neck to help free a 17-year-old protester who was being detained. Van Spronsen refused to comply with officers’ orders, and as he was led through a crowd of protesters, police said he tried to pass the baton to another protester. Van Spronsen was punched in the face at least once during the altercation. Nine other people were arrested as well.
He ultimately pleaded guilty in Pierce County Superior Court to one count of obstructing an officer, a gross misdemeanor, and received a one-year deferred sentence in October, according to court documents, which labeled him indigent.
Van Spronsen’s actions come on the heels of former New York Daily News columnist Shaun King, who was also a Black Lives Matter activist, calling for detention centers to be liberated “by any means necessary” — which must meet Twitter’s guidelines on acceptable contents.
History has taught us that concentration camps should be liberated.
We cannot & should not wait until 2020, w/ the hope that we defeat Trump, to free these children.
We should liberate them NOW – by any means necessary.
My latest for @TheIntercept.https://t.co/3McawljqAe
— Shaun King (@shaunking) June 29, 2019
Social media users on the left where quick to embrace Van Spronsen as martyr, to include Antifa-linked accounts.
Here’s a sampling of responses from Twitter:
RIP to Willem Van Spronsen
“May his memory be a blessing” “Love to those still fighting.”https://t.co/M4OABy1Czj
— Antifa Sacramento (@AntifaSac_) July 14, 2019
Willem Van Spronsen, a comrade, a martyr. Presente! He loved the people, fought for what he believed in and died in the struggle. I’m glad no one else was killed. There needs to be an investigation… https://t.co/QazooFq3Ud
— Bruce Wilkinson (@bwildleaf) July 14, 2019
“As far we know, Willem Van Spronsen is the first American killed attempting to liberate an American gestapo camp. There was a time when thousands of Americans, armed with the guns, attacked and liberated concentration camps … they were heralded as… https://t.co/nYDSBtPVMT
— Beth Foster (@BethneyFoster) July 14, 2019
RIP to anarchist fighter Willem Van Spronsen. The attack on the ICE facility in Tacoma is a proportionate action against enslavers and internment camp operators. He joins a long list of fallen anarchist martyrs who fought for a liberated world! https://t.co/teXxBeUTLU
— RevAbolitionMov (@RevAbolitionist) July 14, 2019
his name was Willem Van Spronsen. he was a 69 year old elder comrade who last year tried to free a 17 year old from police during a protest at the same ICE center. he literally gave his life for the cause. rest in power. remember him.https://t.co/JxClDbR1xA
— contranym (@c0ntr4nym) July 14, 2019
Willem Van Spronsen. ✊ May you be the spark that ignites this powder keg. A modern day John Brown. Idk the artist, but tag them if you know who they are. #willemvanspronsen #vanspronsen #antifa #anticapitalism #ancom… https://t.co/Gm2bBDsOP6
— Charlemagne Rose (@CharlemagneRos3) July 14, 2019
R.I.P Willem Van Spronsen.
Fuck Tacoma PD, fuck ICE, and fuck GEO.
— Salish Sea Black Autonomists (@black_autonomy) July 13, 2019
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