Famed LGBT rights lawyer burns himself to death in Prospect Park

A prominent gay rights activist set himself on fire in a protest suicide in Brooklyn's Prospect Park in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Members of the public discovered the remains of David Buckel in a NY park, with the 60-year-old reportedly leaving a suicide note in a nearby shopping trolley.

Mr Buckel was the lead lawyer in a case in which police in Nebraska were found to have failed to protect Brandon Teena, a transgender teen who had been raped and assaulted and was later murdered in the state of Nebraska.

"My name is David Buckel and I just killed myself by fire as a protest suicide", the Brooklyn resident wrote.

Buckel said he wanted his death to lead to increased action, writing: "Honourable objective in life invites honourable goal in death".

"I hope it is an honorable death that might serve others".

'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'.

A jogger who stumbled across the remains and shared photographs of them on Twitter before they were covered up by police said they were "freaked out" by the discovery. Hilary Swank won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Teena in the 1999 movie "Boys Don't Cry".

'It's a very important case, not only within Nebraska but nationally, ' Buckel told the Daily Nebraskan newspaper in 2001, after helping win an $80,000 judgment.

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.

Buckel was a senior counsel and director of the Marriage Project for Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ advocacy group.

A second note was also found at the scene, though this one was typed.

'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.

Susan Sommer, a former attorney for Lambda Legal and now the general counsel for the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, also reacted to Buckel's death. "He knew his craft and his trade and was strategic in how to build the blocks toward a sweeping victory".

Camilla Taylor, director of Lambda Legal, said in a statement to HuffPost that their organization will honor Buckel's life by "continuing to fight for equality". "He was a attractive human being who was universally kind to everyone at Lambda Legal, committed to his clients, and devoted to our work".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)

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