Top LGBT rights lawyer sets himself on fire at Brooklyn park in protest suicide
A prominent LGBT rights lawyer died after setting himself on fire in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park on Saturday.
David Buckel, 60, killed himself after sending messages to multiple news outlets, including The New York Times, explaining his intention to set himself on fire to protest the world’s usage of fossil fuels at the expense of the environment.
“Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water and weather,” Buckel wrote the Times in an email. “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.”
“A life of privilege requires actions to balance the harm caused, and the greater the privilege, the greater the responsibility,” Buckel added.
“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.”
Buckel was the lead attorney in Brandon v. County of Richardson arguing on behalf of Brandon Teena, a murdered transgender man whom Buckel argued successfully that a country sheriff failed to protect.
The case was made famous in the 1999 movie “Boys Don’t Cry,” for which Hilary Swank won an Oscar for portraying Teena.
Buckel went on from that case to work for Lambda Legal, a national LGBT rights organization that mourned his death Saturday in a statement on its website.
“The news of David’s death is heartbreaking. This is a tremendous loss for our Lambda Legal family, but also for the entire movement for social justice,” the group said in a statement.
“David was an indefatigable attorney and advocate, and also a dedicated and loving friend to so many. He will be remembered for his kindness, devotion, and vision for justice.”
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