Lawyer burns himself to death in climate protest

16 April, 2018, 14:51 | Author: Wade Massey
  • In 'protest suicide,' lawyer famed for gay rights cases burns himself to death in New York

David Buckel, 60, who was involved in the case that inspired the film Boys Don't Cry, self-immolated in a well-trafficked section of the popular park, which would have been all but deserted at the time of his death.

"Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a result - my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves", the email continued.

Mr Buckel was the lead lawyer in a case in which police in Nebraska were found to have failed to protect Brandon Teena, a transgender teen who had been raped and assaulted and was later murdered in the state of Nebraska.

He had spent the bulk of his career fighting for gay rights, including serving as the marriage project director and senior counsel at Lambda Legal, a nonprofit civil rights organization.

Calling him a "beautiful human", the firm said "David was an indefatigable attorney and advocate, and also a dedicated and loving friend to so many". "Our hearts go out to all who knew David". In his work with Lambda Legal, he acted as a strategist that helped with key same-sex marriage cases in Iowa and New Jersey.

"We have lost a movement leader, a colleague, and a friend", Lambda Legal added.

He was also a well-known ecological activist, working with the NYC Compost Project, funded by the city Sanitation Department and based at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. "A lifetime of service may best be preserved by giving a life".

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Camilla Taylor, director of Lambda Legal, said in a statement to HuffPost that their organisation will honour Buckel's life by "continuing to fight for equality". A neighbor told the Times she had worked with Buckel on the Greenest Block in Brooklyn competition.

The New York Times reports that it received an emailed copy of Buckel's suicide note, in which he wrote that he hoped his death was an "honorable" one and that it "might serve others".

He also talked about the difficulty of improving the world even for those who make an effort to do so and noted that privilege was derived from the suffering of others.

"A life of privilege requires actions to balance the harm caused, and the greater the privilege, the greater the responsibility", Buckel added.

He reportedly compared his actions to Tibetan monks who have sacrificed themselves to protest Chinese rule, according to Buzzfeed. "Honorable goal in life invites honorable objective in death", Buckel wrote.

Story by Cleve R. Wootson Jr.

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