Rédigé par Patrick Granet et publié depuis
Willem Van Spronsen was an anarchist and anti-fascist from Washington who was fatally shot by police on July 13 while trying to set a fire with incendiary devices during an attack at an ICE detention center in Tacoma. Authorities say Van Spronsen was armed with a rifle and threw “lit objects” at buildings and vehicles in the parking lot of the Northwest Detention Center.
Van Spronsen, a Vashon Island musician, was shot and killed by Tacoma Police officers, the Seattle Times reports. No one else was injured.
Van Spronsen also went by the name Emma Durutti on a now-deleted Facebook profile and on an album titled “the audio manifesto” that was posted to Bandcamp a week before he was killed. While some have said the Emma Durutti name indicated Van Spronsen was trans — and Emma Durutti did post on Facebook in 2018 calling Willem Van Spronsen a dead name — friends of Van Spronsen say he did not identify as trans and used Emma Durutti as a pen name. The nom de plume is a reference to two of Van Spronsen’s inspirations : Emma Goldman, an anarchist activist, and Spanish insurrectionary Buenaventura Durruti.
The detention center is run by GEO Group, a private company, and has a capacity to hold 1,575 people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The incident comes amid nationwide protests against planned raids targeting undocumented immigrants announced by President Donald Trump and his administration and outcry against the conditions of facilities being used to hold detained migrants and asylum seekers.
Van Spronsen was previously arrested in 2018 at the Tacoma detention facility when he was accused of lunging at a police officer who was detaining another protester. Van Spronsen later pleaded guilty to obstructing a law enforcement officer and was given a deferred sentence. On Facebook, using the Emma Durutti name, Van Spronsen had posted frequently about issues connected to ICE detention centers and posted photos protesting outside of the Tacoma facility.
The incident occurred about 4 a.m., Tacoma Police said. Officers responded after receiving a call from an ICE employee at the detention center, according to the police department.
“We are extremely grateful to the officers of the Tacoma Police Department who reacted quickly to the incident that occurred outside the Northwest Detention Center this morning,” Michael Melendez, acting field office director for Seattle Enforcement and Removal Operations at ICE, said in a statement to The Washington Post. “This incident could have resulted in the loss of many more lives, were it not for the brave actions of all the officers involved.”
GEO Group told The Associated Press, that “baseless accusations,” about the facility, “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. We are thankful for the quick and brave action by the Tacoma Police Department, which prevented innocent lives from being endangered.” The company said the Tacoma detention center has air conditioning and other modern amenities, recreational activities, a bed for every detainee and medical care available at all hours.
Police said they were at the scene investigating throughout the day Saturday. “The facility has been operating normally with detainees able to move about inside the building,” Tacoma Police said.