A prominent, longtime LGBT rights advocate and environmentalist died by fire yesterday, in an act of protest against the toll of human activity on the planet’s ecology, the NYPD said today.
As early-morning picnickers began arriving at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, David Buckel immolated himself on the baseball field, where he was found by passersby. “I am David Buckel and I just killed myself by fire as a protest suicide,” the attorney wrote, adding, “I apologize to you for the mess.”
Buckel, 60, was the marriage project director for LGBTQ law group Lambda Legal, and worked to secure equal treatment for same-sex couples in several states, including the landmark Lewis v. Harris case in New Jersey, which set the stage for later legalization of marriage equality by the Supreme Court in 2015. In his later years, Buckel also became involved in environmental issues, which led to his death yesterday.
“Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water and weather,” Buckel said in his suicide note. “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.”
Buckel’s body was “completely charred”, according to the NYPD, which found his suicide letters taped to nearby trash receptacles, addressed to “the police”.
Susan Sommer, a former colleague of Buckel’s at Lambda Legal, lamented his passing, saying, “[Buckel] was all about justice, but he was also all about what it means to be human,” noting that “he was a very smart and methodical lawyer. He knew his craft and his trade and was strategic in how to build the blocks toward a sweeping victory.“