Climate activist dies after setting himself on fire in front of Supreme Court
Climate activist Wynn Bruce, 50, died after setting himself on fire in front of the Supreme Court in an apparent protest
A man from Boulder, Colorado, set himself on fire in front of the Supreme Court on Friday in an apparent Earth Day protest against climate change. He has since died, D.C. police said.
Climate activist Wynn Bruce, 50, died Sunday, according to The Denver Post. He was airlifted for treatment but did not survive.
The Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., said that investigators did not find any type of manifesto or note on Bruce’s body and the police are continuing to look for a motive.
Driving the news: His friend, Kritee Kanko, a climate scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund and a Zen Buddhist priest in Boulder, said that Bruce’s actions were an act of protest.
What she said: “This act is not suicide,” she wrote on Twitter early Sunday morning. “This is a deeply fearless act of compassion to bring attention to climate crisis.”
In an interview with The New York Times, Kanko said that she wasn’t completely sure of Bruce’s true intentions, but “people are being driven to extreme amounts of climate grief and despair” and that “what I do not want to happen is that young people start thinking about self-immolation.”
State of play: On the day of the incident, the court heard arguments on an environmental case that could restrict or even eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to control pollution, per The Denver Post.
The court’s conservative majority raised skepticism about the agency’s ability to regulate emissions.
Flashback: Bruce isn’t the only environmental advocate to burn himself to death — David Buckel, another advocate and a prominent gay rights lawyer, did the same in New York in 2018, per The Guardian.
In his final note, Buckel said: “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.”