Lawyer sets himself on fire to protest climate change

Suspended law student refutes college's charge

Suspended law student refutes college's charge

A prominent American lawyer and gay rights activist has died after setting himself on fire at a NY park to protest damage being done to the planet, according to United States media reports.

David Buckel, 60, was found in the park at 6.30am on Saturday (US time) before hundreds descended on it to enjoy the warm Spring weather.

Buckel's suicide notes were left inside an envelope labeled "for the police" placed inside a garbage bag left inside a shopping cart near the body.

The 1987 Cornell Law School graduate argued during his career against the Boy Scout ban on gays and for the establishment of a gay student club at a Utah high school.

His suicide note expressed the hope that his death would serve as a call to action.

Buckel famously served as lead attorney in a lawsuit involving transgender murder victim Brandon Teena, who was raped and then killed in 1993. "A lifetime of service may best be preserved by giving a life".

"Honourable objective in life invites honourable goal in death".

In 2006, he testified on behalf of Lambda Legal before the New Jersey Assembly's Judiciary Committee, urging members to oppose a bill that sought to establish civil unions, instead of marriage equality for same-sex couples.

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'Here is a hope that giving a life might bring some attention to the need for expanded actions, and help others give a voice to our home, and Earth is heard'.

The case attracted quite a lot of publicity and was even adapted into a movie, concentrating on Teena's life named "Boys Don't Cry", which won actress Hillary Swank an Academy Award.

A second note was also found at the scene, though this one was typed. He also worked with the NYC Compost Project as an ecological activist.

'There's no denying that sticking with renewable resources means a lot of elbow grease with pitchforks and shovels, ' he wrote in a 2016 article on the Botanic Garden Web site.

The New York Times quoted friends of Buckel as saying that he became involved in environmental causes after leaving Lambda Legal. "He knew his craft and his trade and was strategic in how to build the blocks toward a sweeping victory".

Tributes have begun to pour in for Buckel, with Lambda Legal calling his death a loss for the "entire movement for social justice".

"David was a brilliant legal visionary".

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