Monday, April 16, 2018

2884. Prominent Lawyer in Fight for Gay Rights Immolates Himself to Protest Inaction in Fighting Climate Change

By NYC-Democratic Socialists of America Climate Justice Working Group, April 16, 2018
The lawyer David S. Buckel in New Jersey Supreme Court during a 2006 case about same-sex marriage. Mr. Buckel died on Saturday after setting himself on fire in a Brooklyn park, the police said. Photo: Jose F. Moreno/Associated Press.

On Saturday morning David Buckel woke up, walked to Prospect Park and lit himself on fire leaving behind a note that said, “I am David Buckel and I just killed myself by fire as a protest suicide.”
On December 17th, 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest the despotic Ben Ali regime in Tunisia. When pressed for comment, his mother said, "Mohammed did what he did for the sake of his dignity." At the time, Bouazizi could not have imagined his act would serve as the spark for the Arab Spring and people’s revolution that emerged over the following months.
David set himself on fire Saturday using fossil fuels to reflect what we are doing to the planet. This was a terrible tragedy and horrific death that we don’t want to be in vain.
As David said, “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.”
David was a tireless advocate and a true community composting giant. After a storied career as a gay rights attorney, he shifted his activism towards environmental work. It was at the Red Hook Community Farm where he helped build a stronger and more resilient local community. Despite his lifelong commitment to justice, David became overwhelmed by the general malaise and apathy to the climate crisis. David wrote: “Honorable purpose in life invites honorable purpose in death.” Just as Bouazizi did, David committed this act for the sake of his dignity.
We cannot let David’s final act go unnoticed. He wrote “Many who drive their own lives to help others often realize that they do not change what causes the need for their help,” David wrote, adding that donating to organizations was not enough. David’s call for mass action must serve as the wakeup call he desired. He gave his life to try to ignite a people’s movement against extraction and fossil fuels. We must now heed David’s call. We must come together to put people and planet over profit. We can no longer live under the yoke of fossil fuel companies. We must honor David and fight together in solidarity for an ecologically just world.

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