Crimethinc: On Willem Van Spronsen’s Action against the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma

On July 13, Willem Van Spronsen was killed by police while apparently taking action to disable the fleet of buses that serve the Northwest Detention Center, a private immigration detainment facility. His final statement, reproduced below, conveys that he was acting in response to the continuous raids and deportations carried out by Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE). His action occurred on the one-year anniversary of a hunger strike inside the Northwest Detention Center and an encampment outside. You can read a list of other acts of resistance that have occurred inside the Northwest Detention Center here.

We understand why Willem Van Spronsen decided to give his life to interrupt the violence that is perpetrated against undocumented people in the United States every day.

It is not hyperbole to say that the ICE raids are targeting our friends and neighbors, people who have lived and worked alongside us for years or even decades. The vulnerability of long-term undocumented people as a hyper-exploitable class has helped billionaires like Donald Trump to profit even more than they could have by legal means. To put the icing on the cake, capitalists then turn to the other workers they are exploiting and tell them that the poverty and misfortunes they experience are the fault of those who are poorer and more oppressed than them. It’s hard to imagine a more cynical strategy.

The disparity in rights between the documented and undocumented is a construct—just as the disparity in value that the Nazis constructed between Jewish people and gentiles was a construct. Both are mere inventions; they have no intrinsic existence except as a means for a powerful group to justify violence against a less powerful group. Those who justify obedience to the law as a good in itself stand alongside the Nazis whose laws condemned millions to the death camps, not to mention the racists who passed the Fugitive Slave Act and the Jim Crow laws in the American South.

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