Colorado Man Dies After Setting Himself on Fire in Climate Change Protest
By Nicole Wells | Monday, 25 April 2022 06:02 PM
A man from Colorado who set himself on fire Friday in front of the Supreme Court to protest climate change has died from his injuries, The New York Times reports.
According to the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, Wynn Bruce, 50, of Boulder., died Saturday after being flown to a hospital following the Earth Day climate change protest.
Bruce set himself on fire at the plaza in front of the Supreme Court at approximately 6:30 p.m. Friday, police and court officials told the Times.
A self-identified Buddhist, Bruce apparently set himself on fire in an imitation of Vietnamese monks who self-immolated to protest the Vietnam War, the Times reports.
Kritee Kanko, a climate scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund and a Zen Buddhist priest in Boulder, said that she was a friend of Bruce's and that his actions were a deliberate form of protest.
''This act is not suicide,'' she wrote on Twitter early Sunday. ''This is a deeply fearless act of compassion to bring attention to climate crisis. … I am so moved.''
In a later interview with the Times, Kritee added that, while she was not entirely aware of his intentions, ''people are being driven to extreme amounts of climate grief and despair.''
''What I do not want to happen is that young people start thinking about self-immolation,'' she said.
A Facebook account identified by Kritee as Bruce's had marked the January death of Thich Nhat Hanh, an influential Zen Buddhist master and anti-war activist who had idolized the self-immolating Vietnamese monks in a 1965 letter he wrote to Martin Luther King Jr.
In late February, the Supreme Court heard arguments on an environmental case that could potentially restrict or remove the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate pollution.
The outcome of the case could hamper the Biden administration's efforts to tackle climate change, as the court's conservative majority had expressed doubt in the EPA's authority to regulate carbon emissions.
Nearly three weeks before he acted, Bruce had edited a 2021 comment on his Facebook page to include the date of his planned protest and a fire emoji. The announcement of his plans was buried in his timeline, according to the Times.
Going back to April 2020, Bruce's other Facebook posts railed against ''war profiteers,'' former President Donald Trump and climate change inaction.
The Times reports that Bruce quoted King and had praise for the Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. He also spoke of the ''compassion'' of Ukrainian refugees in March.