Willem Van Spronsen

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Willem Van Spronsen


The late Willem Van Spronsen (trans name/alias Emma Durutti)[1] was an anarchist who was born and raised in Holland.[2] Willem Van Spronsen was a "former member" the Puget Sound chapter of the John Brown Gun Club.

He gained national attention - and often positive news coverage - after he attempted to "set a fire with incendiary devices during an attack at an ICE detention center... [he] was armed with a rifle and threw 'lit objects' at buildings and vehicles in the parking lot..."[3] at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington on July 13, 2019.[4]

On July 18, 2019 police reported that Van Spronsen’s gun, which he is accused of pointing at police, appeared to have malfunctioned.[5]

The Squad fails to Condemn Attack

Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley all refused to denounce the attack.[6]

Shaun King Praises Willem Van Spronsen as 'Martyr'

Shaun King praised Willem Van Spronsen; wrote:[7] that Willem Van Spronsen is a "martyr" and his manifesto was "beautiful, painful, devastating..."

Tenure Track professor Jorge Cuellar praises Willem Van Spronsen: 'direct action is an important instrument'

On Twitter July 13 2019, "tenure-track" professor at Dartmouth Jorge Cuellar praised [8] Willem Van Spronsen, saying in part that "direct action is an important instrument in the activist and revolutionary toolkit".

'May his death serve as a call to protest and direct action'

Seattle Antifascist Action Facebook Post

According to a Facebook post[9] by Seattle Antifascist Action, Willem Van Spronsen is a "martyr":

"When our good friend and comrade Willem Van Spronsen took a stand against the fascist detention center in Tacoma, he became a martyr who gave his life to the struggle against fascism. He was kind and deeply loved by many communities; we cannot let his death go unanswered. Throughout history we idolize figures like John Brown for their courage to take the ultimate stand against oppression, and today we stand strong in our support for yet another martyr in the struggle against fascism. May his death serve as a call to protest and direct action."

'Rest in Power': Antifa comrades mourn Willem Van Spronsen

Antifa mourns Willem

A group called Puget Sound Anarchists posted a tribute to Willem Van Spronsen on anarchistnews.org on July 14 2019, describing him as "long-time anarchist, anti-fascist and a kind, loving person" and saying in part that "...roughly 30 anarchists gathered at Percival landing in Olympia WA to remember Will Van Spronsen and to oppose ICE...":[10]

We Are The Fire That Will Melt ICE – Rest in power, Will Van Spronsen

Early this morning around 4am our friend and comrade Will Van Spronsen was shot and killed by the Tacoma police. All we know about what lead up to this comes from the cops, who are notoriously corrupt and unreliable sources for such a narrative. The story that we do have is that Will attempted to set fire to several vehicles, outbuildings and a propane tank outside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma which houses hundreds of immigrants awaiting hearings or deportations. He successfully set one vehicle on fire and then exchanged gunfire with Tacoma police officers who fatally shot him. He was pronounced dead on the scene. We find his actions inspiring. The vehicles outside the detention facility are used to forcibly remove people from their homes and deport them, often to situations where they will face severe danger or death. Those vehicles being destroyed is only a start of what is needed. We wish the fires Will set had freed all the inmates and razed the entire Northwest Detention Center to the ground. And we miss our friend and wish from the bottom of our hearts that his action had not ended in his death.
Will Van Spronsen was a long-time anarchist, anti-fascist and a kind, loving person. Here in Olympia some of us remember him as a skilled tarp structure builder from the Occupy encampment in 2011. Others remember him from the protests outside the NWDC last summer where he was accused of lunging at a cop and wrapping his arms around the officer’s neck and shoulders, as the officer was trying to arrest a 17-year-old protester. The very next day when he was released from jail he came right back to the encampment outside the center to support the other protesters. He is also remembered as a patient and thoughtful listener who was always willing to hear people out.
We are grief stricken, inspired and enraged by what occurred early this morning. ICE imprisons, tortures and deports hundreds of thousands of people and the brutality and scale of their harm is only escalating. We need every form of resistance, solidarity and passion to fight against ICE and the borders that they defend. 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.
This evening around 8pm roughly 30 anarchists gathered at Percival landing in Olympia WA to remember Will Van Spronsen and to oppose ICE. We held road flares and banners reading “Rest In Power Will Van Spronsen” “Abolish ICE” “RIP Will” “Fire to the Prisons” and “Stop Deportation End Incarceration.” We shared stories and memories of Will with each other, laughed, and cried. Some people split off and plastered downtown Olympia with “Immigrants Welcome” stickers, while others drove circles around downtown flying the “Rest in Power Will” from the back of a truck.

'Manifesto' encourages comrades 'arm themselves'

After it was widely reported that Willem Van Spronsen left a "manifesto," (see Washington Times excerpt)[11] journalist Jake Hanrahan tweeted[12] what appeared to be the manifesto, in which Willem Van Spronsen said "I am Antifa", claimed he was radicalized when reading about the electoral college at age 13, said he used a "home built unregistered 'ghost' ar15" and encouraged his comrades to "arm themselves:"

"the semi automatic weapon i used was a cheap, home built unregistered "ghost" ar15, had six magazines. i strongly encourage comrades and incoming comrades to arm themselves."

Manifesto Transcript

Willem Van Spronsen Manifesto

Transcript (via Chapo Trap House):[13]

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 the other. evil says the flow of commerce is our purpose here. evil says the concentration camps should be more humane. beware the centrist.
i have a father's broken heart i have a broken down old body and i have an unshakeable abhorrence of unjustice that is what brings me here this is my clear opportunity to try and 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 YPJ 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 on our streets, in the name of the state or supported by the state.
in these days of highly profitable detention/ concentration camps and a battle over the semantics.
in these days of hopelessness, empty pursuit and and endless yearning.
we are living in a 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 the rich guys richer. simple. don't overthink it.
(are you patriots in the back paying attention?)
when i was a boy in postwar holland, later france, my head was filled with stories of the rise of fascism in the 30's. 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?
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 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 represent us.
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 heal the only way i know how- by being useful. 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 been 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 protect 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 future by those most marginalized among us today. i have dreamted 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 my comrades from around the world who act from the love of life in every permutation, comrades who understand that freedom means real freedom for all and life worth living.
keep the faith! all power to the people! bella ciao
audio manifesto: theSuper8.bandcamp.com
don't let your silly government agencies "investigate" this one. i was radicalized in civics class at 13 when we were taught about the electoral college. it was at that point that i decided that the status quo might be a house of cards. further reading confirmed in the positive. i recommend reading! i am not affiliated with any organization, i had disaffiliated from any organizations who disagree with my choice of tactics. the semi automatic weapon i used was a cheap, home built unregistered "ghost" ar15, had six magazines. i strongly encourage comrades and incoming 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.

Excerpt from Washington Times

A friend of the man who authorities say died after throwing explosive devices at an immigration jail in Tacoma says that she thinks he wanted to provoke a fatal conflict, the Seattle Times reports.
Deb Bartley, who tells the Times she has been a friend of Willem Van Spronsen’s for about 20 years, described him as an anarchist and anti-fascist, and believes his attack on the detention center intending to provoke a fatal conflict.
“He was ready to end it,” Bartley told the Times. “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.”
She says that she and other friends of Van Spronsen got letters in the mail “just saying goodbye.” He also wrote what she referred to as a manifesto, which she declined to discuss in detail, the Times reports.

Member of the 'John Brown Gun Club'

Willem Van Spronsen (hightlighted) Screenshot from Puget Sound John Brown Gun Club

Willem Van Spronsen was a "former member" the Puget Sound chapter of the John Brown Gun Club.[14]

2018: 'lunged at an officer's neck'

According to a local news report, Willem Van Spronsen "lunged at an officer's neck during a protest at the same detention center" in 2018.[15]

"According to court documents, Van Spronsen jumped on the back of an officer and 'Van Spronsen wrapped both of his arms around Officer Robillard’s neck and shoulders,' while the officer was trying to detain a protester.
Courts records also said detectives found a 'knife' and 'baton' on Spronsen."

Accusations of Domestic Violence

Willem Van Spronsen was evidently accused of domestic violence from his estranged wife. He claimed in 2017 that "[S]ix false police reports were filed against me- every one of which was dismissed."[16]

Statement in Solidarity with the Occupy Movement

Willem Van Spronsen, of the Super8 signed a statement in solidarity with the Occupy Movement from the Occupy Musicians in 2011, reading "We, the undersigned musicians and all who will join us, support Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Movement around the world.":[17]



  1. [Willem Van Spronsen aka Emma Durutti: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know (accessed on July 15 2014)
  2. [‘Maybe it was his last stand.’ Man killed at Tacoma detention center felt strongly about ICE (accessed on July 15 2014)
  3. [Willem Van Spronsen: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know (accessed on July 14 2014)
  4. [Twitter Users Defend Willem Van Spronsen After He Attacked Detention Facility, Died In Shootout With Police (accessed on July 14 2014)
  5. [Officers involved in fatal shooting at Tacoma detention center are identified (accessed on July 22 2014)
  6. [AOC, Ilhan Omar repeatedly REFUSE to condemn Antifa attack on ICE! | Keean Bexte (accessed on July 22 2019)
  7. [Shaun King Deleted Tweet dated July 15 2019 (accessed on July 16 2014)
  8. https://archive.fo/WzOeh [Jorge Cuellar on Twitter (accessed on July 15 2014)
  9. https://archive.fo/AoINT (accessed on July 14 2014)
  10. [We Are The Fire That Will Melt ICE – Rest in power, Will Van Spronsen (accessed on July 14 2014)
  11. Anarchist in immigration jail attack sought fatal fight, friend says (accessed on July 14 2019)
  12. https://twitter.com/Jake_Hanrahan/status/1150446091231477762 (accessed on July 14 2019)
  13. The wisdom of Will Van Spronsen (accessed on July 14 2019)
  14. [Facebook Link to tribute to Willem Van Spronsen (accessed on July 14 2019)
  15. Man killed by police at NW Detention Center had previous arrest for assaulting officer (accessed on July 14 2019)
  16. https://web.archive.org/web/20190309164827/http://vashonloop.com/PDF/LoopV14_6.pdf [A Father’s Lament (accessed on July 14 2019)
  17. Occupy Musicians website (accessed on Dec. 9, 2011)