The Death of Will Van Spronsen

On July 13, a comrade by the name of Will Van Spronsen was killed will engaging in an action against the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washing. While the facts of this case are still coming to light what is known is that he was an anarchist. He was an anti-fascist. He was one of ours. The media and the State are attempting to paint him as a person engaging in a violent act against individuals. Let us be clear, he was engaging in an act against property; property that is used to rob people of their liberty and dignity as human beings. He will be remembered by the anarchist community as a person who took action while the rest of the world stood by and did little.

To his friends, family and the Puget Sound anarchist community. We wish to express our sorrow and solidarity with you all. We can only imagine that right now your hearts must be broken over the recent news of Will’s death. We cannot begin to imagine the feelings of loss and confusion that has covered over your community. But we are with you during this period of loss and we will continue to be with you until the sun breaks through. We know that desperate acts often take place when attempting to struggle for humanity in an inhumane situation. We can only imagine that this is exactly what Will was trying to do. We value this. You are our comrades and you have claimed Will as your own. We will do the same. 

To quote Pietro Gori’s “The First of May”:
“Give flowers to the rebels who failed, Their sight fixed upon the break of dawn, To the bold rebel who fights and works, To the far-seeing poet who sings and dies”

Below is a statement from La Resistencia regarding the incident that led to Will’s death.

TACOMA, WA – Early this morning, a person who appears to have been engaged in protest against the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma was shot and killed by members of the Tacoma Police Department. Today marks yet another death linked to the detention center, and another death at the hands of the police. Based on available information, including the police scanner recording, Willem Van Spronsen, the protestor killed, appears to have been targeting not the detention center itself, as has been widely reported in the media, but the parking lot across the street from the detention center which houses the NWDC’s transportation infrastructure. This infrastructure includes a fleet of buses that transports immigrants to be caged at the detention center, and that transports immigrants from the detention center to the Yakima Airport, from which they are deported.

Mr. Van Spronsen was apparently trying to set the deportation buses on fire when he was shot and killed. His actions sadly reflect the level of desperation people across this country feel about the government’s outrageous violence against immigrants, which includes the use of detention centers to cage migrants both currently living in the U.S. and those seeking asylum. This death results from the federal government’s unresponsiveness to the anger and despair people feel at the horrors unfolding both at the border and in the interior, and from the inability of officers to de-escalate rather than shooting to kill.

But for the City of Tacoma allowing the GEO Group’s facility to be built and expanded in Tacoma, this death, and the death and suffering of those inside the detention center would have been avoided. The NWDC has become a liability not just for the tens of thousands who have been caged there, but for the city of Tacoma itself. It’s past time for the city of Tacoma to cancel GEO’s business license. It’s clear that this “business” is a deadly one, that has only brought pain and suffering to our region.

La Resistencia calls on the City of Tacoma to hold immediate public hearings addressing the Tacoma Police’s actions today that resulted in the loss of life at the Detention Center and why the City continues to allow GEO to operate with a city business license.