Environmental activist Wynn Bruce set himself on fire in front of the U.S. Supreme Court roughly at 6:30 p.m. on Earth Day. He was protesting climate change. Bruce was airlifted to a hospital after his self-immolation and died because of his injuries the following day. Nobody else was injured.
Bruce was a 50-year-old climate activist. He was also a photographer who ran a portrait photography studio and practiced Buddhism. Bruce had expressed massive concerns about climate change by sharing related news articles on his Facebook. In January, he posted a photo in commemoration of Thich That Hang who died that month. Hang wrote in a letter “to burn oneself by fire is to prove that what one is saying is of the utmost importance,” elevating the act as courageous and candid. The letter was written about the legacy of Vietnamese monks who immolated themselves in protest of war.
Kritee Kanko, who calls herself Bruce’s friend, states on Twitter that, “This act is not suicide. This is deeply fearless act of compassion to bring attnetiop’n to climate crisis. Bruce frequently attended meditation retreats at the Rocky Retreat Center in Boulder Colorado. Buddhist teachers and Board members there say they grieved the death of their friend Wynn Bruce and would have stopped him by any means if they knew about his plans to self-immolate. They also said, “Buddhists take a vow to protect all life and reduce all suffering. We do not think self-immolation is a climate action”
The plaza of the U.S. Supreme Court Building is where the incident occurred is now closed to the public following Bruce’s act for further investigation.