According to Buzzfeed, police confirmed the suicide of David Buckel, 60, who was discovered when firefighters responded to reports of a fire in Prospect Park.
Buckel left a note nearby where his body was found. According to New York Daily News, the handwritten note read, "My name is David Buckel and I just killed myself by fire as a protest suicide [...] I apologize to you for the mess." He also reportedly left a typed note attached with his business card. It read, "My early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves." He used a fossil fuel during his suicide to symbolize how fossil fuels destroy our environment. He also reportedly compared his actions to Tibetan monks who have sacrificed themselves to protest Chinese rule, reported Buzzfeed.
Buckel sent out emails to various news organizations prior to the incident. In an email to The New York Times, Buckel wrote, "Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water, and weather. 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." He added, "A life of privilege requires actions to balance the harm caused, and the greater the privilege, the greater the responsibility. 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 is best known for serving as the lead attorney for the 1993 lawsuit addressing the murder and rape of a transgender man Brandon Teena, which was depicted in the 1999 film Boys Don't Cry. He was an attorney for the LGBT civil rights organization Lambda Legal. In a statement, Camilla Taylor, the Lambda Legal's director of constitutional litigation and acting legal director said, "Our hearts go out to all who knew him. David was a beautiful human being who was universally kind to everyone at Lambda Legal, committed to his clients, and devoted to our work."
According to Daily News, he was also an advocate for community composting and served on the NYC Compost Project at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.