After Tacoma Police fatally shot an armed man—later identified as Willem Van Spronsen of Vashon Island—who was protesting, and apparently trying to destroy, the Northwest Detention Center (NDC), was news coverage somehow different than it might have been had the dead man been identified as a right-wing deportation activist and Second Amendment advocate?
Van Spronsen was described to the Seattle Times by a friend as “an anarchist and anti-fascist.” He had been arrested last year after apparently “lunging” at a police officer in an effort to “help free a 17-year-old protester who was being detained, the newspaper said. Van Spronsen pleaded guilty to obstructing an officer, which is a gross misdemeanor.
But instead of decrying the actions of a gun-toting suspect and turning him into the latest poster boy for gun control, is he being more humanely treated than if he’d been killed while protesting gun control? Thousands of Evergreen State gun owners have, over the past few years, trooped to Olympia visibly armed to argue against increasingly restrictive gun policies.
The difference between those protests and what happened in Tacoma early Saturday morning is that in this case, Van Spronsen allegedly threw some kind of incendiary devices at a parked car and the detention center buildings, and tried to ignite a propane tank. Nothing close to that has ever happened at a gun rights protest.
Van Spronsen was fatally wounded when four officers opened fire, according to published reports.
The dead man reportedly was a “self-employed carpenter and contractor,” and he also was a folk singer. But on Saturday morning, he apparently became something quite different.
People on the left are defending Van Spronsen as a martyr, and KIRO quoted one woman, Deanne English, alleging that “they murdered him,” apparently referring to the police officers who shot him.
Van Spronsen left a “manifesto,” in which he reportedly wrote, “i (sic) regret that i (sic) will miss the rest of the revolution doing what I can to help defend my precious and wondrous people is an experience too rich to describe. i (sic) am antifa.”
The 69-year-old Van Spronsen, according to one friend identified as Deb Bartley, may have expected to die, the Seattle Times reported.
“He was ready to end it,” she stated. “I think it 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.”