A prominent US lawyer who fought for gay rights and environment ended his life in a fiery protest using fossil fuel in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park early on Saturday.
In a suicide note left in a shopping cart near his body, David Buckel, 60, (pictured: Photo credit: Institute for Local Self-reliance) hoped his death was “honorable” and “might serve others” as a wake-up call to save the planet, the New York Daily News reported.
In a separate note marked ‘To the police’, Buckel compared his suicide to self-immolation by Buddhist monks to protest China’s occupation of Tibet.
Police arrived at the park around 6.40 am after morning joggers and bicyclists saw the charred remains of Buckel and alerted them.
Buckel was the lead attorney in the case of Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was murdered in Nebraska. Hollywood made a film Boys Don’t Cry based on the incident in 1999 which won an Academy Award for Hilary Swank for her portrayal of Teena.
Earlier, in 1987, he argued against the Boy Scout ban on gays and for the establishment of a gay student club at a Utah high school.
He also helped a Pennsylvania woman win a lawsuit allowing her to place the epitaph “beloved life partner” on the headstone of her gay partner.
He worked with the Marriage Project for the gay civil rights group Lambda Legal. The group members were devastated by the news of his death. They said Buckel will be remembered for his kindness, devotion, and vision for justice.
Recently, he worked with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to run one of the largest composting programmes in the country that processes entirely with renewable resources. Buckel, who lived near the park, was regarded as one of the most experienced community composting experts in New York City.