By Audrey Conklin
A number if outraged liberal Twitter users are rallying behind a 69-year-old anti-fascist who has killed after attacking a private detention facility. Some are even calling him a martyr. (RELATED: CNN’s Chris Cuomo Says Antifa Fights For ‘A Good Cause’)
Willem Van Spronsen died Saturday morning after a shootout with police when he arrived at the Tacoma, Wash,, facility with the intent to set the building on fire, the Tacoma News Tribune reported.
The Tacoma Police Department responded to calls around 4 a.m. when Van Spronsen, armed with a file and flares, started throwing incendiary devices toward a propane tank in an effort to set fire to the facility and managed to ignite a car.
Deb Bartley, a friend of Van Spronsen, told The Seattle Times that he identified as an anarchist and anti-fascist (Antifa), and she believes his intent in attacking the center was to provoke a conflict.
“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.”
Looks like Willem Von Spronsen was also a member of the anti-fascist John Brown Gun Club of Pudget Sound. That’s him on the left, from their FB. pic.twitter.com/5cw9IV9CQM
— Jake Hanrahan (@Jake_Hanrahan) July 14, 2019
Some people shared their responses on Twitter to news that Van Spronsen was a member of Antifa. (RELATED: DC Police Department’s ‘Quick Response’ Prevents Antifa From Clashing With Right-Wing Groups At Rally)
A number of users appear to sympathize with Van Spronsen’s actions and are justifying the attack by citing anti-illegal-alien rhetoric used by President Donald Trump and his supporters.
2020 presidential candidate and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee connected Trump to the attack: “Along with many Americans, I object with every fiber of my being to Donald Trump’s inhumane treatment of immigrants in America,” he tweeted. “But violence is not acceptable. We must be better and seek non-violent ways of pursuing the better world we want, as many groups are doing.”
Along with many Americans, I object with every fiber of my being to Donald Trump’s inhumane treatment of immigrants in America. But violence is not acceptable. We must be better and seek non-violent ways of pursuing the better world we want, as many groups are doing.
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) July 14, 2019
One Antifa account called RevAbolitionMov with nearly 3,000 followers wrote:
RIP to anarchist fighter Willem Van Spronsen. The attack on the [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] 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!
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
Others called Van Spronsen a martyr and a hero:
Yep, plenty of love for comrade Willem. ??♀️ pic.twitter.com/8Hgm3AbKzi
— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) July 14, 2019
#WillemVanSpronsen targeted ICE infrastructure in a bid to save lives. He is a hero, and we grieve his loss. Rest in Power comrade.
— Lou Lou (@loobylane) July 14, 2019
— ?️⚧️ transbian valerie solanas ?️⚧️ (@generalissima_) 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
The Guillotine by The Coup. I feel like its only fitting to honor the passing of #WillemVanSpronsen a true hero. "We got the guillotine, you better run." Fuck ICE, fuck the police. Fuck Donald Trump and fuck the two parties. https://t.co/wYpBzIz1jy
— ?????? ???????? ?????? (@GutterPossum) July 14, 2019
GEO Group, a private correctional institutions company that owned the facility Van Spronsen attacked, told The Associated Press that accusations made against its facilities “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,” GEO Group continued. “We are thankful for the quick and brave action by the Tacoma Police Department, which prevented innocent lives from being endangered.”
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