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Washington Activist Protesting Immigrant Detention Shot Dead

HeadlineJul 16, 2019

A man was fatally shot Saturday after apparently attempting to set deportation buses on fire outside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington. Sixty-nine-year-old Willem Van Spronsen had protested before against the mistreatment of immigrants at the facility, run by private company GEO Group. Journalist and activist Shaun King called Van Spronsen the “first martyr” in the fight against immigrant detention.

Immigrant rights group La Resistencia said, “[Van Spronsen’s] 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. This death results from the federal government’s unresponsiveness to the anger and despair people feel at the horrors unfolding both at the border and in the interior, and from the inability of officers to de-escalate rather than shooting to kill.”

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