The 69-year-old man who was killed after he tried to firebomb a federal detention facility in Tacoma, Washington, on Saturday morning left behind a “manifesto” echoing words used by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and calling himself a member of the far-left “Antifa,” according to a copy of the manifesto posted by a local TV station.
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.
Van Spronsen’s use of the term “concentration camps” comes after Ocasio-Cortez began using the controversial term to describe the detention facilities used for illegal immigrants coming through the southern United States’ border with Mexico.
Ocasio-Cortez’s use of the term, although defended by her supporters, was widely criticized by many on the right as well as some mainstream media journalists. NBC News’s Meet the Press anchor Chuck Todd scolded Ocasio-Cortez in a recent monologue for using the term.
Ocasio-Cortez ignored questions over whether she would condemn Antifa or the attack, according to video posted by Rebel News:
.@AOC refuses to condemn the Antifa attack on the Tacoma ICE center; refuses to tell @TheRealKeean if her inflammatory comments about “concentration camps” radicalized the attacker. pic.twitter.com/YOjn0yL032
— The Rebel (@RebelNewsOnline) July 15, 2019
Van Spronsen wrote in the alleged manifesto that when he was a boy “in post war holland, later france, my head was filled with stories of the rise of fascism in the 30’s” — drawing a direct correlation between fascism in the 1930s and the Trump administration’s response to illegal immigrants today.
“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 just going to stand by?” he wrote.
A woman named Deb Bartley told the Seattle Times that she had been a friend of Von Spronsen for about 20 years and that she received a letter from him recently “just saying goodbye.”
She told the newspaper, “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.”
Van Spronsen wrote in the alleged manifesto:
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
He also allegedly stated, “i am antifa, i stand with comrades around the world who act from the love of life in every permutation.”
He also allegedly “strongly” encouraged “comrades and incoming comrades to arm themselves.” He allegedly wrote: “we are now responsible for defending people from the predatory state. ignore the laws of arming yourself if you have the luxury, i did.”
Van Spronsen was featured in a May 5th CNN United Shades of America documentary, as a member of the Puget Sound John Brown Gun Club, a leftist gun club and part of the “Redneck Revolt” against the far-right.
Van Spronsen was featured several times throughout the documentary, wearing clothing with the club’s logo.
CNN host W. Kamau Bell repeatedly praised the members of the club throughout the documentary and tweeted for his followers to support the club.
As you are watching the #UnitedShades episode about @PugetSoundJBGC & the good work they are doing to actively end white supremacy just understand that being on my show is bringing a lot more harassment their way. Do what you can to support them. ?? https://t.co/hJCEjTdXnh
— W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) May 13, 2019
Van Spronsen, according to the Tacoma Police Department, was outside of the North West Detention Center at approximately 4:00 a.m. on Saturday, armed with a rifle and throwing incendiary devices at the center and then at vehicles in the center’s parking lot, setting a vehicle on fire. He then attempted to ignite a large propane tank and set buildings on fire, and he continued throwing lit objects at the buildings and cars, the police said. Von Spronsen was shot and determined deceased.
“Anti-immigration enforcement protester, Willem Van Spronsen, 69, was armed with a loaded rifle and attempted to ignite a commercial-size propane tank attached to the detention facility. This could have resulted in the mass murder of staff and detainees housed at the facility had he been successful at setting the tank ablaze,” said Shawn Fallah, the resident agent in charge of ICE Office of Professional Responsibility, in a statement. “These are the kinds of incidents that keep you up at night.”