On July 13, 2019, Willem Van Spronsen was killed by police while
attacking transportation infrastructure for the Northwest Detention
Center in Tacoma, WA.
The Northwest Detention Center can hold over 1,500 people, making it the
largest immigration prison on the west coast, and one of the largest
immigrant detention facilities in the country.
Willem was a long-time activist, anarchist, anti-fascist, musician and
father. In a memorial posted to Puget sound anarchists, his comrades
wrote: “We are grief stricken, inspired and enraged by what occurred
early this morning… Will gave his life fighting ICE. we may never know
what specifically was going through his head in the last hours of his
life but we know that the NWDC must be destroyed and the prisoners must
be freed. We do not need heroes, only friends and comrades. Will was
simply a human being, and we wish that he was still with us. It’s
doubtless that the cops and the media will attempt to paint him as some
sort of monster, but in reality he was a comrade who fought for many
years for what he believed in and this morning he was killed doing what
he loved; fighting for a better world.”
The following is Willem Van Spronsen’s Final Statement:
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.
Beware the centrist.
I have a father’s broken heart
I have a broken down body
And I have an unshakable abhorrence for injustice
That is what brings me here.
This is my clear opportunity to try to make a difference, I’d be an
ingrate to be waiting for a more obvious invitation.
I follow three teachers:
Don Pritts, my spiritual guide. “Love without action is just a word.”
John Brown, my moral guide. “What is needed is action!”
Emma Goldman, my political guide. “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be
in your revolution.”
I’m a head in the clouds dreamer, I believe in love and redemption.
I believe we’re going to win.
I’m joyfully revolutionary. (We all should have been reading Emma
Goldman in school instead of the jingo drivel we were fed, but I
digress.) (We should all be looking at the photos of the YPG heroes
should we falter and think our dreams are impossible, but I double
digress. Fight me.)
In these days of fascist hooligans preying on vulnerable people in our
streets, in the name of the state or supported and defended by the
In these days of highly profitable detention/concentration camps and a
battle over the semantics,
In these days of hopelessness, empty pursuit and empty yearning,
We are living in visible fascism ascendant. (I say visible, because
those paying attention watched it survive and thrive under the
protection of the state for decades. [See Howard Zinn, A People’s
History of the United States.] Now it unabashedly follows its agenda
with open and full cooperation from the government. From governments
around the world.
Fascism serves the needs of the state serves the needs of business and
at your expense. Who benefits? Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, Elon Musk, Tim
Cook, Bill Gates, Betsy de Vos, George Soros, Donald Trump, and need I
go on? Let me say it again: rich guys (who think you’re not really all
that good), really dig government (every government everywhere,
including “communist” governments), because they make the rules that
make rich guys richer.
Don’t overthink it.
(Are you patriots in the back paying attention?)
When I was a boy, in post-war Holland, later France, my head was filled
with stories of the rise of fascism in the ’30s. 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 going to just
This is the test of our fundamental belief in real freedom and our
responsibility to each other.
This is a call to patriots, too, to stand against this travesty against
everything that you hold sacred. I know you. I know that in your hearts,
you see the dishonor in these camps. It’s time for you, too, to stand up
to the money pulling the strings of every goddamn puppet pretending to
I’m a man who loves you all and this spinning ball so much that I’m
going to fulfill my childhood promise to myself to be noble.
Here it is, in these corporate for profit concentration camps.
Here it is, in Brown and non-conforming folks afraid to show their faces
for fear of the police/migra/Proud Boys/the boss/beckies…
Here it is, a planet almost used up by the market’s greed.
I’m a black and white thinker.
Detention camps are an abomination.
I’m not standing by.
I really shouldn’t have to say any more than this.
I set aside my broken heart and I heal the only way I know how—by being
I efficiently compartmentalize my pain…
And I joyfully go about this work.
(To those burdened with the wreckage from my actions, I hope that you
will make the best use of that burden.)
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 life.
Doing what I can to help defend my precious and wondrous people is an
experience too rich to describe.
My trans comrades have transformed me, solidifying my conviction that we
will be guided to a dreamed-of future by those most marginalized among
us today. I have dreamed it so clearly that I have no regret for not
seeing how it turns out. Thank you for bringing me so far along.
I am antifa. I stand with comrades around the world who act from the
love of life in every permutation. Comrades who understand that freedom
means real freedom for all and a life worth living.
Keep the faith!
All power to the people!
*Music by Willem Van Spronsen (Emma Durruti)