A renowned LGBTQ rights lawyer and environmental activist was found dead in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York, after reportedly setting himself on fire to protest against fossil fuels.
The remains of David Buckel, 60, were discovered when firefighters responded to reports of a fire in the park.
According to the New York Daily News, Buckel, a graduate of Cornell Law School, left a handwritten suicide note at the scene near his body. It said he had used “fossil fuel” to ignite the fire and wanted his death to symbolize what humans are doing to Earth.
Prior to the incident, the lawyer reportedly emailed copies of a poignant message to several news organizations.
In an email to The New York Times, Buckle wrote:
"Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water, and weather. 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," he said. "A life of privilege requires actions to balance the harm caused, and the greater the privilege, the greater the responsibility. For if one does not leave behind a world better for having lived in it, all that remains are selfish ends, sometimes wrapped in family or nation."
In the note, Buckel also drew a parallel between his actions and those of the Tibetan monks who self-sacrificed to protest the Chinese rule.
Buckel had an inspiring track record, which clearly indicates he was an individual with a strong social conscience who dedicated most of his life working for fundamental issues.
He worked with several environmental groups — including doing volunteer work with the Added Value Red Hook Community Farm and acting as the senior organics recovery coordinator for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s NYC Compost Project.
However, the highlight of his work is when he served as the lead attorney for the 1993 lawsuit addressing the murder and rape of a transgender man, named Brandon Teena, which was depicted in the 1999 film “Boys Don't Cry.”
Moreover, he was also a senior counsel and director of the Marriage Project for Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ advocacy group.
Camilla Taylor, director of Lambda Legal, said the organization will keep Buckel’s efforts alive by “continuing to fight for equality.”
"His thoughtful and engaging advocacy broke through many stubborn misconceptions and showed it was possible and necessary for our movement to speak up for bullied, ostracized LGBT young people," Taylor said in a statement.
There is no denying the fact death of Buckel is a great loss, particularly for causes of civil liberties and environmental concerns.
Moreover, at a time when the country’s environmental agency is controlled by people like Scott Pruitt, who keeps displaying blatant disregard for the climate change, having people like Buckel who are conscious about accelerating threat of the change, is highly crucial.
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