Washington D.C. vigil commemorates US airman Aaron Bushnell

Washington D.C. vigil commemorates US airman Aaron Bushnell


27 February, 2024

In cities across the US on Monday evening, vigils were held to honor the life of Aaron Bushnell, who died after lighting himself on fire the previous day in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington DC in an act of protest against the US government's support for Israel's genocidal assault on Gaza.

On Sunday, Bushnell, a 25-year-old member of the US Air Force, filmed himself wearing his military fatigues as he walked in front of the Israeli embassy, firmly declaring why he was there and that he was about to engage in an extreme act of protest.

"I am an active-duty member of the United States Airforce, and I will no longer be complicit in genocide," he said. "I'm about to engage in an extreme act of protest. But compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers, it's not extreme at all. This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal."

He then doused himself in flammable fluid and lit himself on fire as he uttered his final words, repeatedly yelling "Free Palestine" before collapsing engulfed in flames. Shortly after the news was reported, people were organising vigils in front of Israeli missions and on street corners.

But unlike many other gatherings in protest of Israel's war on Gaza over the past five months, Monday's vigils were eerily quiet, with the occasional words spoken quietly, often through tears. Mourners left flowers and candles and wrote in chalk on the sidewalks, many expressing their admiration for Bushnell's final act of protest while condemning the US government for its support for Israel's war, which has caused more than 100,000 casualties, including 30,000 Palestinian deaths.