Buckel burned himself to death in New York's Prospect Park on Saturday. (REUTERS/Jeff
A “green” activist who was a
pioneering lawyer for gay and transgender rights — including in the notorious
“Boys Don’t Cry” rape murder case — committed suicide by setting himself on
fire Saturday morning in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park in a grisly act of protest
against the ecological destruction of the Earth.
David Buckel, 60, left behind a
charred corpse and a typed suicide note that said he was burning himself to
death using “fossil fuel” to reflect how mankind was likewise killing itself,
police sources said.
He left the note in a manila envelope
marked “To The Police,” recovered from inside a black metal pushcart he
discarded at the scene.
“Most humans on the planet now
breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a
result,” Buckel wrote in his note, which he also
sent to the New York Times.
“My early death by fossil fuel
reflects what we are doing to ourselves.”
He added, “Honorable purpose in life
invites honorable purpose in death.”
Passers-by were horrified to see
Buckel’s burned remains.
“It was just lying there, on its
back, knees slightly bent like someone would lie on the sand at the beach,”
said Irena Ryjova, 44, a rollerblader who passed by at about 7 a.m., less than
an hour after the immolation.
“It’s a shock; it’s a shame,” said
mom Dana Lall as she shepherded a crowd of Catholic-school kids past the
horrific scene, en route to a baseball game.
As a senior attorney with Lambda
Legal defense, Buckel was a lead lawyer in a 2000 lawsuit on behalf of
transgender “Boys Don’t Cry” rape-murder victim Brandon Teena, helping the
family recover additional damages from neglectful Nebraska law enforcement.
The 1999 movie earned Hilary Swank an
Oscar for her portrayal of Teena.
“It’s a very important case, not only
within Nebraska but nationally,” Buckel had told the Daily Nebraskan newspaper
in 2001, after helping win an $80,000 judgment.