On Saturday, July 13th, a self-described anarchist and anti-fascist named Willem Van Spronsen showed up at a detention facility belonging to Immigration, Customs, and Enforcement (ICE) in Tacoma, Washington. Spronsen had protested there in the past—last year, he attacked a police officer and when arrested, had a knife and collapsible baton on his person, according to the Seattle Times.
This time, Spronsen, 68, came armed with a rifle and incendiary devices, which he lit and began throwing into vehicles. An ICE employee saw what was happening outside the building and called the police. When Tacoma police officers arrived, they quickly radioed that they had “shots fired” although it’s currently unclear who fired first. Multiple police officers discharged their weapons before moving to cover. Spronsen lay dead, killed by multiple gunshots.
Before making his ill-fated assault on the ICE detention facility, Spronsen penned a manifesto which he sent to his friends. It references the Kurdish YPG fighters in Syria, Howard Zinn, the famous Italian partisan song “Bella Ciao,” and states that his primary teachers are anarchist Emma Goldman, abolitionist John Brown, and Don Pritts, creator of the “Big Book” workshop for the 12-Step group, Alcoholics Anonymous.
“I am Antifa,” Spronsen writes—a statement as unequivocal as the Christchurch, New Zealand terrorist announcing himself to be an eco-fascist. These statements in manifestos can’t be easily disregarded or ignored as many, including analysts who should know better, attempt to re-frame them.
The manifesto appears in full below this article.
Part of the backdrop of America’s culture wars includes the inevitable comparison between far right wing and far left wing groups. The logic behind these arguments often asks us to believe that two wrongs make a right or at worst, place fringe organizations in competition with one another to see which can one up the other—a dynamic that certainly will not end well for any of us.
One of the main arguments claiming no comparison between the likes of Antifa and white nationalist groups is because Antifa hasn’t killed anyone. While members of Antifa may have caused property damage and rioted without a permit, its organization has a zero body count, while white nationalists have murdered people in cold blood. This is true, but might not be for much longer.
Worth noting is the final paragraph of Spronsen’s manifesto regarding his choice of weaponry. He describes the semi-automatic rifle used at the ICE detention facility as a cheap, homemade, “ghost” AR-15. What Spronsen likely means is that he ordered or otherwise acquired the parts for an AR-15 rifle and then assembled them himself. By doing this, the rifle would be unregistered, without a serial number. He also states that he carried six magazines for the rifle.
He also wrote, “I strongly encourage comrades and future comrades to arm themselves. We are now responsible for defending people from the predatory state. Ignore the law in arming yourself if you have the luxury, I did.”