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Gay rights lawyer dies from self-immolation in a protest

16 April 2018

A prominent American lawyer and gay rights activist has died after setting himself on fire at a NY park to protest damage being done to the planet, according to U.S. media reports.

The charred remains of David Buckel, 60, were discovered shortly after sunrise when firefighters responded to a report of a fire in the southwest corner of the sprawling Brooklyn park, police sources said.

"My early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves", he wrote.

His final note said he had "good health to the final moment", but wanted others to be spurred to action, according to the Times: "Honorable goal in life invites honorable objective in death".

"David also led Lambda Legal's work to secure justice and accountability for the murder of Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was brutally raped and then killed by his rapists after law enforcement failed to intervene". Hilary Swank won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Brandon in the 1999 film Boy's Don't Cry.

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.

In his note, Buckel invoked the images of protesters setting themselves afire to protest the Chinese occupation of Tibet.

It's a tragic shame that Buckel's life ended in such a way, knowing all the good he could have done for the world if he were still alive.

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"Here is a hope that giving a life might bring some attention to the need for expanded actions, and help others give a voice to our home, and Earth is heard".

"The news of David's death is heartbreaking".

Told Irena Ryjova, 44 who came past the 'mass" just after 7 am, an hour after Buckel burned himself, "It was just lying there, on its back, knees slightly bent like someone would lie on the sand at the beach'.

Police pronounced Buckel dead at 6.30am.

According to the Daily News, "a 2006 story in Gay City News said that Kaelber and Buckel were co-parenting their daughter with two women, Rona Vail and Cindy Broholm".

Buckel also fought for the right of gay high school students in Salt Lake City to organize a club, and argued against discrimination in the Boy Scouts of America and the military.

He said that privilege comes with the suffering of others. #DavidBuckel Read my tribute to him. "He knew his craft and his trade and was strategic in how to build the blocks toward a sweeping victory". "This is a tremendous loss for our Lambda Legal family, but also for the entire movement for social justice", Camilla Taylor, the group's director of constitutional litigation, said in a statement. Friends confirmed that after Buckel left Lambda Legal he got involved with environmental activism.

Gay rights lawyer dies from self-immolation in a protest