Feline similar to Aaron Bushnell’s cat whose picture was uploaded on his Facebook page.
(Photo Credit: cerro_photography | Getty Images)

US Airman Who Protested Gaza Genocide by Self Immolation Gave Away Cat First

Aaron Bushnell, a 25-year-old United States airman, protested the conflict in Gaza by setting himself on fire in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. Before the act, Bushnell made arrangements that hinted at his impending departure. Not only did he express his affection to friends, but he also took the time to rehome his cat and distribute his possessions, including a fridge stocked with root beer.

Air Force member Aaron Bushnell left cat to friend before livestreaming burning himself in front of Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC

Aaron Bushnell live-streamed his act of self-immolation as a form of protest against the violence in Gaza. Described by friends as a lover of show-tune karaoke and the fantasy series “The Lord of the Rings,” the Massachusetts native grew disillusioned with the military and the social injustices in the U.S. 

Before committing to his drastic form of protest, Bushnell made sure to set his affairs in order, including giving his cat to a neighbor and bequeathing his root beer stockpile to a friend. Moreover, he sent out his will and a final message to a friend, expressing his love and hinting at his imminent departure — according to the New York Post. His final words during the act, “Free Palestine!” highlighted his protest’s focus on the conflict in Gaza.

Bushnell’s act of protest didn’t come entirely without warning. Friends recall discussions about anarchy, sacrifice, and disillusionment with the state, particularly following the death of George Floyd. These conversations hinted at a growing frustration within Bushnell but did not explicitly forecast the ultimate form that his protest would take. Despite a jovial exterior at social gatherings and a continued passion for karaoke and fantasy novels, Bushnell harbored a deep-seated unease with his position in the Air Force and the broader state of world affairs.

The airman’s final act was one of desperation and protest, leaving friends and acquaintances in shock and mourning. Sam Osta, 55, a friend who met Bushnell at a 2022 protest at the Lincoln Memorial, attended a memorial for Bushnell outside the Israeli embassy on Monday. Osta expressed regret, saying, “I wish I would have known. I would have stopped him. His life means a lot, and it’s horrifying what happened.”

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