[TRIGGER WARNING: POSSIBLE SUICIDE]
So this happened at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, less than an hour from where I live and a place I have personally protested for its shitty conditions and detainment of refugees. A local self-identified anarchist and antifascist posted a manifesto online before trying to light the buses that NWDC uses to deport its migrant prisoners on fire using "incendiary devices" (flares). The police were called and they, of course, shot him to death.
NWDC representatives have been freaking the fuck out, claiming this guy could have/would have hurt employees, claiming he attacked the main building which is absurd because it's concrete and he was trying to light shit on fire.
The man's name was Willem Van Spronsen. Based on some of what was in his manifesto, it sounds like he intended to either be arrested or, more likely, be killed by police. He was 69 and said shit like "to those burdened with the wreckage from my actions, I hope that you will make the best use of that burden" and "I regret that I will miss the rest of the revolution."
I've talked before about the phenomenon of "suicide by cop," a real thing that happens when your nation's police are so known for their murderousness that a great way to end your own life is to provoke them. I can't say for certain if that was Willem's intention, but I can say for certain that I myself have envisioned myself committing suicide in exactly this fashion - by attacking a migrant concentration camp and then the police when they show up. And I'm certain that I'm not the only one who has.
Willem's sacrifice and bravery made a deep statement about where we are as a nation. We've officially seen someone attack a concentration camp and be killed for it and it may well have been an act of suicide. I'm of course not going to encourage it but it would be mighty silly of me to think it's not going to happen again, and I understand. The horror of living in the U.S. right now when you're a moral person is so intense.
A lot else is going on right now in the country, most of it Trump being just astonishingly racist and Islamophobic, but this happened Saturday morning and I didn't hear about it until last night. I wouldn't be surprised if this news is being squashed because of all the people who don't want this to happen. And hey, it doesn't have to be just one person at a time, and it doesn't have to be a suicide mission. With enough of us, we could do a lot more damage and most of us would survive.
That's what they're afraid of.
Meanwhile, over on Fox News and even less blatantly right-wing news outlets, they're reporting on Willem like they should have reported on all those white supremacists who post manifestos before going out and committing deadly mass shootings. They can't be bothered to report on any of those cases but a guy attacks some buses and hurts nobody and all the sudden "ANTIFA ANARCHIST POSTS MANIFESTO, MARTYRED BY COMRADES BEFORE ASSAULTING OBJECTS." The parallels between the Fox News report on this and the way actual news outlets report on white supremacist mass shooters are striking and bitterly hilarious.
Willem Van Spronsen was murdered by police who could have de-escalated (they're supposed to be getting training on this but big surprise it didn't do shit) but surely wanted him dead because of what he was attacking (white supremacy and fascism) and because he once body-slammed a cop who was trying to arrest another antifa activist (double hero). He died trying to do something real to end the horror of concentration camps. He died trying to prevent deportations that tear families apart and get people killed. He died for human rights and human dignity, rather than dying for the sake of white supremacy.
If he were a character in a movie or a book, everyone would consider him a hero. But somehow people can't draw a line from the fiction they consume to the real world that all that fiction is based on. Probably because they don't want to feel bad about the fact that they'll never be heroes like Willem because they're too scared and too comfortable in their capitalist luxury.
But as fewer and fewer of us get any capitalist luxury and instead have to live paycheck to paycheck to live in shit, this is going to keep happening. Willem isn't the first in human history and he certainly will not be the last.