Wynn Alan Bruce, 50, from Boulder, Colorado, who self-immolated on Friday — when the world marked Earth Day — suffered critical injuries and was airlifted to hospital, where he died, a police spokesperson said.
Those who knew Bruce, who had managed a portrait photo studio in Boulder, say he was protesting against inaction on the climate crisis.
Kritee Kanko, a climate scientist and a Zen Buddhist priest who claims to know Bruce through the same meditation group, wrote on Twitter that while they are still gathering more information, the activist may had planned on the act for at least a year. CNN could not independently verify their relationship.
This isn’t the first time someone set themselves on fire to protest inaction against climate change.
In Buddhism, the ascetic practice of self-immolation — where one voluntarily takes their own life, typically by setting themselves ablaze — is extremely rare; it’s a controversial practice among some adherents of the Mahayana tradition of the religion.
The area around the Supreme Court was closed Friday for further investigation, according to a court spokesperson. The court plaza had returned to normal Saturday, CNN observed. No one else was injured in the incident, a court spokesperson said.
As the climate emergency advances and its impacts continue to be felt around the world, climate scientists and activists have been ramping up efforts to bring attention to the crisis, through civil disobedience and risking arrest by blocking traffic and locking themselves to building entrances of financial institutions funding fossil fuel projects.
CNN’s Jamie Crawford, Jessica Schneider, Veronica Stracqualursi and Ella Nilsen contributed to this report