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Wednesday April 17, 2024

Aaron Bushnell: Self-immolated pro-Palestine US airman was religious anarchist: reports

Before his death, Aaron Bushnell, US Air Force airman, believed his act was "protest" for "free Palestine"

By Web Desk
February 27, 2024
The protester identified himself as Aaron Bushnell, 25. — US Police/File
The protester identified himself as Aaron Bushnell, 25. — US Police/File

A member of the US Air Force passed away late on Sunday night in a hospital after setting himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy "in an apparent protest" against the Israeli attacks on Gaza

Police identified the airman as San Antonio, Texas resident Aaron Bushnell, 25. Moreover, an Air Force spokeswoman verified his active duty status on Monday, according to English News.

For his vigil on Monday night, people congregated in front of the embassy gate, holding posters and candles.

ABC News reported that an account on the Twitch website, owned by Amazon, began streaming live on Sunday at approximately 1:00pm local time (1800 GMT). The video showed Bushnell approaching the embassy gate while wearing camouflage fatigues, pouring flammable liquid from a bottle, and lighting himself on fire.

Bushnell called his reason for doing the broadcast "an extreme act of protest." Before collapsing, he was heard yelling "Free Palestine" several times and declaring, "I will no longer be complicit in genocide".

He appears to be associated with at least two Ohio-based anarchist organisations, Mutual Aid Street Solidarity and Burning River Anarchist Collective. Bushnell had the groups bookmarked on Facebook.

According to the company's website, he even worked for Paraclete Press, a Christian book and music publisher with headquarters in Massachusetts where his mother is still employed, suggesting that he was raised in a pious Christian home. His dad runs a building company.

In his early years, Bushnell was also a member of Spirit Winter Percussion, a local indoor marching band.

According to statements from the city's Metropolitan Police Department and Fire and EMS Department, the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Department responded to a call for fire outside the Israeli embassy in Northwestern Washington just before 1pm local time (1800 GMT) on Sunday. They arrived at the scene after the Secret Force had extinguished the flame.

The Israeli embassy issued a statement claiming that no diplomatic employees were hurt in the event and that the individual was "unknown" to them.

In what authorities described as "probably an extreme act of political protest," a woman dressed in a Palestinian flag set herself on fire in front of the Israeli consulate in Atlanta, Georgia, on December 1, 2023, as reported by NBC.

Bushnell's self-immolation was covered by American corporate media in a "diluted and decontextualised" way, according to an Al Jazeera opinion piece published on Monday. This included portraying Bushnell's protest as being against US military policy.