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Intercept Columnist Shaun King Praises Alleged Antifa Terrorist

By Zachary Stieber

Intercept columnist Shaun King praised the man who police said tried firebombing an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Washington state before he was shot dead.

King called Willem Van Spronsen “a martyr.”

“Willem Van Spronsen just became the first martyr attempting to liberate imprisoned refugees from a for-profit detention center in Tacoma, Washington. His hero was John Brown—the white abolitionist who led the raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859. This is what our country has come to,” King wrote on Twitter, sharing a picture of the alleged terrorist and two photos honoring him.

King then shared pictures showing a lengthy manifesto that Van Spronsen reportedly left before his attack on the facility.

“We are told that this is the final letter of Willem Van Spronsen—who was shot and killed by law enforcement as he attempted an attack on a for-profit refugee detention center in Tacoma, Washington. It’s a beautiful, painful, devastating letter. He wasn’t crazy—inaction is,” King said.

In the manifesto, Van Spronsen identified himself as a member of Antifa, a far-left extremist groups that openly advocates violence and is rooted in communism.

“This is my clear opportunity to make a difference, I’d be an ingrate to be waiting for a more obvious invitation,” Van Spronsen wrote.

Van Spronsen uses the phrase “concentration camps” multiple times to refer to detention facilities holding illegal immigrants. The term, which since World War II has referred to extermination camps run by the Nazis, was recently used by Democratic socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to describe the facilities.

King later shared a picture showing the outside of the Tacoma facility, writing: “This is where Willem was murdered this weekend. His actions will be called terrorism and people will call him crazy, but neither are true. His mind was very clear.”

King later deleted the tweets without explaining why.

Police Officer Sam Lopez turns away would-be protesters
Police Officer Sam Lopez turns away would-be protesters in front of a roadblock near the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash., on July 13, 2019. (Rebekah Welch/The Seattle Times via AP)
Shaun King (R), is honored onstage at the 2018 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California on June 24, 2018. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

The Intercept has not commented on King’s glorifying of Van Spronsen. King recently penned a column saying “history has taught us that concentration camps should be liberated” and that it needs to happen this year.

King’s comments came as other groups and individuals praised the alleged terrorist.

The Seattle chapter of Antifa posted on Facebook: “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.”

La Resistencia, a group that says illegal immigrants should never be detained, also praised the man on Facebook, writing: “Mr. Van Spronsen was apparently trying to set the deportation buses on fire when he was shot and killed. His actions sadly reflect the level of desperation people across this country feel about the government’s outrageous violence against immigrants, which includes the use of detention centers to cage migrants both currently living in the U.S. and those seeking asylum.”