Air Force soldier who set himself on fire's final Facebook post

Aaron Bushnell/Facebook

‘What would I do during slavery?’: Soldier who self-immolated at Israeli embassy decried inaction in the face of ‘genocide’ in final post

'Many of us like to ask ourselves, 'What would I do if I was alive during slavery?' ... The answer is, you’re doing it. Right now.


Tricia Crimmins


Posted on Feb 26, 2024   Updated on Feb 26, 2024, 10:05 am CST

A U.S. Air Force soldier, Aaron Bushnell, set himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. yesterday in protest of the U.S.’s support of Israel. In his final Facebook post, he likened Israel’s attacks on Palestine to U.S. slavery, South African apartheid, and the Jim Crow South.

“Many of us like to ask ourselves, ‘What would I do if I was alive during slavery? Or the Jim Crow South? Or apartheid? What would I do if my country was committing genocide?'” Bushnell posted on his personal Facebook page yesterday. “The answer is, you’re doing it. Right now.”

The post was accompanied by a link to his Twitch livestream, which showed him setting himself on fire. Twitch has since made the livestream “temporarily unavailable.”

In Body Image

Talia Jane, an independent reporter, posted a screenshot of Bushnell’s Twitch stream in which he is engulfed in flames. She also reported that an embassy security officer pointed their gun at Bushnell after Bushnell collapsed on the ground. While on fire, Bushnell repeatedly yelled “Free Palestine.”

“I will no longer be complicit in genocide. I’m about to engage in an extreme act of protest,” TIME reported Bushnell said during his Twitch stream. “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.”

In a statement to ABC News, the U.S. Air Force confirmed that Bushnell died as a result of the injuries he sustained from self-immolating.

Comments on Bushnell’s final Facebook post, of which there are over 1,000, range from calling him a hero to condemning his act of protest.

“God bless you Aaron. Thank you for standing for humanity,” a commenter wrote, in addition to the hashtag #FreePalestine. “May the heavens welcome you with open arms.”

“This mentally ill individual just set himself on fire on purpose and there are wackjobs on here THANKING him for doing it?” another said. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

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*First Published: Feb 26, 2024, 10:04 am CST