Climate activist Wynn Bruce dies after setting himself on fire outside US Supreme Court

Wynn Bruce's demonstration a 'deeply fearless act of compassion to bring attention to climate crisis', friend said

Wynn Bruce, the man who set himself on fire outside the Supreme Court in protest against climate changed, has died from his injuries. Reuters

A Colorado man who set himself on fire outside the US Supreme Court on Earth Day in apparent protest against climate change has died, Metropolitan Police said on Monday.

Wynn Bruce was flown to hospital after the incident, later succumbing to his injuries. A video posted on Twitter by a Fox News reporter shows a helicopter landing on the steps of the Supreme Court on Friday evening to transport Bruce.

Deceased climate activist Wynn Bruce of Boulder, Colorado. Photo: Facebook

Dr Kritee Kanko, a Zen Buddhist priest and climate scientist, said in a tweet that she had been a friend of Bruce.

“This act is not suicide. This is a deeply fearless act of compassion to bring attention to climate crisis,” she said.

Dr Kritee said Bruce “had been planning it for [at least] one year".

In an interview with The New York Times, Dr Kritee said she was not sure of Bruce's intentions but said some people experience immense grief over the climate.

Bruce apparently shared the date of his planned self-immolation with a fire emoji in an edited Facebook comment earlier this month. The comment was included under a post warning about the global impact of climate change.

Buddhist leaders at the Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Centre said it was not aware of Bruce's intention to burn himself alive.

"As we grieve the death of our friend Wynn Bruce and prepare a memorial page to honour him, we want to emphasise that none of the Buddhist teachers in the Boulder area knew about his plans to self-immolate on Earth Day," the centre said in a statement shared on Twitter.

"If we had known about his plans, we would have stopped him in any way possible. That would be our spiritual, moral and legal responsibility."

The centre said self-immolation is "not something that we would ever encourage".

Dr Kritee told the Times she and Bruce last communicated via Facebook Messenger in January.

Bruce's death followed a chaotic series of events in Washington on Friday.

A suspect in a mass shooting that wounded four people in a residential neighbourhood was found dead in an apartment filled with assault-style weapons.

Investigators had identified Raymond Spencer as the suspected gunman through social media posts.

Updated: April 26, 2022, 6:12 AM
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