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Tacoma leaders urge unity after fatal officer-involved shooting at detention center

(KIRO 7 image)

In the wake of a deadly officer-involved shooting at the federal detention center in Tacoma, city leaders are speaking out, urging the community to keep “the lines of communication open” to counter divisiveness.

“Every loss of life in our city is cause to grieve,” Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards and City Manager Elizabeth Pauli said in a joint statement released Tuesday morning.

Tacoma police kill man allegedly trying to set fire to detention center

The statement reads, in part:

Increasingly divisive national rhetoric, reports of intensifying U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement actions, and the presence of a detention center in Tacoma that is privately operated under contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement create tensions that impact us all. Our strength as a community, however, lies in our ability to come together, to engage in open and honest communication, and to support one another throughout difficult circumstances. As you continue to use your voices to elevate matters of local, regional and national significance, including those issues relating to immigrant and refugee families, please know that we continue to listen.

You can read it in full here.

The mayor and city manager further commented that “we must not be divided in our goal to prioritize safety and well being of each person who lives and works in, or visits, Tacoma.”

This comes days after a man, armed with a semiautomatic rifle, attempted to set fire to the detention center that is located in Tacoma. It is currently housing illegal immigrants and asylum seekers. Many demonstrated outside the center over the weekend to protest tensions around immigration, and increasing activity from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Among the demonstrators was Willem Van Spronsen of Vashon Island. On Saturday morning, he attempted to explode a propane tank with flares. He set one car on fire, and threw the flares at other items around the building.

Four Tacoma police officers eventually opened fire on him, killing him.

He left a letter behind for his friends in the local anarchist scene. While the mayor and city manager call for unity, Van Spronsen’s letter is divisive, stating, “beware the centrist.” Many are calling it a manifesto. He states “i am antifa” and argues that America is evolving into a fascist state, with rich guys like Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates in control. He said the detention centers are evil and he encouraged people to arm themselves to protect people under the “predatory state.”

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