The self-proclaimed Antifa militant who was killed Saturday by
Washington state police as he attacked a local Immigration and Customs
Enforcement detention center was seen in a recent CNN program that
critics say glorified a radical, left-wing movement.
Willem Van Spronsen, 69, sent a manifesto to friends the day before the
assault in which he wrote, "I am Antifa," and now he is lionized by
members of the leftwing group as a "martyr."
He also appears to have been part of a May 5 episode of CNN's "United
Shades of America" with W. Kamau Bell.
The heavily promoted CNN show featured Bell explaining the "Redneck
Revolt," which he identified as gun-toting liberals who defend the
Second Amendment and seek to battle the "alt-right" and neo-Nazis.
Bell called them "good guys," going to a gun range with members and
even questioning why "more white people" don't share their viewpoints.
One of the men featured on the CNN special appears to be Van Spronsen
-- who was armed with a rifle and incendiary devices when he launched
his assault on the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma around 4 a.m.
Saturday, according to the Tacoma Police Department.
Employees reported Van Spronsen was throwing 'incendiary devices' and
setting vehicles on fire and the first officers on the scene said he
was carrying flares. He allegedly was trying to ignite a propane tank
when he was confronted by the officers, who opened fire. The Pierce
County Medical Examiner's office said he died of multiple gunshot
CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment and a request
to confirm that Van Spronsen was featured on the network.
Bell noted that the "Redneck Revolt" "protects counter-protesters,
feeds the hungry and provides gun safety courses. Bell also organized
an on-camera meeting between the "Redneck Revolt" and Black Lives
Matter -- Van Spronsen appears to be one of the attendees. The CNN host
laughed and nodded his head in agreement throughout the meeting.
"CNN has done more to give the psycho domestic terrorists of Antifa
credibility than any other outlet," Media Research Center vice
president Dan Gainor told Fox News. "Now Antifa has escalated from
attacking people in the street to sending a journalist to the hospital
with a brain hemorrhage to, finally, a deadly act of domestic
Journalist Andy Ngo, who was attacked by Antifa during a protest in
Portland last month, first noticed that Van Spronsen appeared to be
recently glorified by CNN.
"CNN recently aired a documentary about the Antifa militia whose member
was killed in an ICE firebombing attack yesterday. You can see Mr van
Sprossen at the 4-second time stamp in this trailer," Ngo wrote while
resurfacing a tweet that CNN's W. Kamau Bell sent promoting the
CNN's official Twitter account also tweeted a preview of the show that
appears to show Van Spronsen.
It's Going Down, a website that bills itself as "a digital community
center for anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and
anti-colonial movements" with a mission "to provide a resilient
platform to publicize and promote revolutionary theory and action,"
published a piece commemorating Van Spronsen following his death.
"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," the site wrote. "He took personal
responsibility and did what he could to put an end to what he
recognized as injustice. what he did was heroic."
CNN's "United Shades of America" episode that seemingly featured Van
Spronsen also spent significant time promoting Antifa and Bell even
allowed a member to show off tie-dyed brass knuckles, a knife and
facemask during what the CNN host called "show and tell."
Others took to Twitter to point out that Van Spronsen's group was once
apparently promoted on CNN -- one user noted that Bell even asked his
followers to "support" the "good work they are doing to actively end
CNN did not immediately respond when asked for comment on Bell asking
his Twitter followers to support the group.
The man who appears to be Van Spronsen is wearing a shirt during the
CNN show that promotes the Puget Sound chapter of the John Brown Gun
Club, which is part of the "Redneck Revolt." This is the specific group
that Bell asked his followers to support.
It was hardly the first time that CNN personalities have been accused
of defending Antifa and its members. Back in April, CNN host Chris
Cuomo argued that Antifa's "good cause" was not equivalent to the
positions espoused by neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
"You can talk about Antifa. I've watched them in streets protesting in
different situations, okay?" Cuomo said. "There are certainly aspects
of them that are true to a cause, that is a good cause, they want
social justice, they want whatever they want in that context."
CNN commentator Steve Cortes fired back, "Chris, Antifa is not a good
The CNN anchor clarified that he did not want to "espouse Antifa." But
in 2018, Cuomo also argued that Antifa's violence against police was
"not equal" to violence carried out by white supremacists and neo-
Watching Democrats come up with schemes to "catch Trump" is like
watching Wile E. Coyote trying to catch Road Runner.