Man killed outside Washington detention center cites ‘concentration camp’ debate in manifesto

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — An armed 69-year-old man who was killed by police outside an immigrant detention facility in the state of Washington wrote in a manifesto that he came there because it was a “concentration camp.”

Willem Van Spronsen was killed Saturday outside the Northwest Detention Center while holding an assault rifle and after placing flares near flammable items. He wrote a three-page manifesto against we “visible fascism,” posted on the website of the KIRO television station, before heading out to the center.

He wrote that “it’s time to take action against the forces of evil,” citing in part “highly profitable detention/concentration camps and a battle over the semantics.”

Last month, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., referred to immigration detention facilities on the  U.S.-Mexico border as “concentration camps,” prompting a wide debate. Critics say the term should be reserved for referring to the the Holocaust and that the conditions at the facilities can’t be compared to what occurred at what became Nazi death camps. Ocasio-Cortez and her supporters said the term predated the Nazis and refers to any facility holding people who have not been accused of a crime.

Officials said that officers outside Northwest Detention Center told Van Spronsen to drop his weapon, but fired at him when he failed to comply. He was struck with two rounds and died at the scene.

Police said the video shows Van Spronsen’s starting a fire at the detention center, as well as placing flares in “strategic” locations, even underneath a 500-gallon propane tank. He was also seen starting a fire to his vehicle causing a large explosion.