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Gibson writes: "If the man did indeed douse himself in gasoline and light himself ablaze over the disenfranchisement of millions of black voters like himself due to the Supreme Court's actions, his sacrifice can and must be a rallying cry for all Americans."

Joggers who passed by took their own shirts off and tried to put the flames out. (photo: Clifton Santiago/Photobucket)
Joggers who passed by took their own shirts off and tried to put the flames out. (photo: Clifton Santiago/Photobucket)


Will the Self-Immolation in DC Spark a Tunisian Uprising Here?

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

09 October 13

 

hen Mohamed Bouazizi was slapped by a Tunisian police officer after they told him he couldn't sell products from his food cart without getting a permit, he set himself on fire in front of a government building, setting off the eventual overthrow of Ben Ali's government and the Arab Spring, which spread all over the Middle East. When Thich Quang Duc, a Vietnamese monk, set himself on fire to protest the Diem regime's treatment of Buddhists, the image of his self-immolation affected the international conversation over the conflict in Vietnam. Self-immolation is a traditionally political form of suicide, done as a way to make one final point before death. So why are news networks in the US all but silent in the aftermath of an October 4th self-immolation on the National Mall?

According to eyewitness accounts cited in this Al-Jazeera report, a man set up a camera and a tripod on the National Mall, and made a speech about voting rights before dousing himself in gasoline and setting himself on fire in full view of the public. Joggers who passed by took their own shirts off and tried to put the flames out, as seen in this chilling photo (trigger warning: photo of man on fire), but the man still eventually died from his injuries. According to DC metro police, he was so badly burned that his identity can only be determined through DNA and dental records. Police also confiscated his video and have yet to release it to the public.

This man's self-immolation is not the only one that's been mysteriously unreported in the American news media. Since February of 2009, 122 Tibetan monks have self-immolated in protest of the Chinese government's colonial occupation of their country. Perhaps the corporate media believes that, by acknowledging this fact, it might endanger the US government's profitable trade relationship with China if enough Americans became outraged at the treatment of Tibetans. But the fact that the media has done very little reporting on a man setting himself on fire out of protest in the nation's capital, all while surrounded by monuments and museums and tourists at the national mall, should raise lots of eyebrows. People are accustomed to thinking politically-motivated self-immolation only happens in third-world countries with autocratic regimes, not in the good old US of A.

Another thing the US shares with third-world, autocratic regimes is an election system that enables and encourages the rigging of elections and the disenfranchisement of voters of a certain demographic. When nearly 40 percent of all voting is done on electronic voting machines that can be very easily hacked with minimal tools and experience, that's a welcome mat to corruption. And when states are actively setting up laws that systematically make it harder to cast a ballot for millions of people, most of whom tend to vote a certain way, that's corruption in its purest form. When the Supreme Court gutted key provisions of the Voting Rights Act this past summer, ridiculously declaring racial discrimination a thing of the past, state governments wasted no time before re-establishing laws that would have previously been struck down under those very same voter protections the Supreme Court eliminated.

If the man did indeed douse himself in gasoline and light himself ablaze over the disenfranchisement of millions of black voters like himself due to the Supreme Court's actions, his sacrifice can and must be a rallying cry for all Americans to demand the right to vote without going through the burdensome, costly, unconstitutional process of getting a photo ID as a human right, guaranteed for all Americans. We have the right to know this man's name and his motives, just as much as we have the right to be able to have access to the vote and to have our votes counted in a transparent, democratic process.



Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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+37 # blizmo1 2013-10-09 09:02
Thank you, RSN -- yes, this really did happen, but as usually we lost track of it the blur and hype of daily events.

WHO WAS THIS MAN -- WHY DID HE DO IT -- AND WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT ENOUGH FOR HIM TO DIE FOR IT?

We the People deserve to know.
 
 
+25 # Kootenay Coyote 2013-10-09 16:19
&, why has the occasion been relegated to back pages or nothing in most media?
 
 
+27 # goodsensecynic 2013-10-09 09:52
The supine American media perform the work previously done in various tyrannies by government censors. Where is Edward R. Murrow when we so desperately need him?
 
 
+8 # Nominae 2013-10-10 17:35
Quoting goodsensecynic:
The supine American media perform the work previously done in various tyrannies by government censors. Where is Edward R. Murrow when we so desperately need him?


It is my sad duty to inform you that Edward R. Murrow, along with a Free and Informative American Press, is long since dead.
 
 
+41 # Saberoff 2013-10-09 10:06
"..So why are news networks in the US all but silent in the aftermath of an October 4th self-immolation on the National Mall?"

Easy answer, Carl. It's because we're exceptional.

Unless it happens here: It's war crimes.
Unless it happens here: It's torture.
Unless it happens here: It's terrorism.
Unless it happens here: It's a dictatorship.
Unless it happens here: It's a police state.
Unless it happens here: Disenfranchisement.
Unless it happens here: It's corruption.
Unless it happens here: It's larceny.
Unless it happens here: It's malfeasance.

It's a lot of things, Carl: it's all now, it's just not, HERE!

All these things happen in other places. There's nothing to see here.
 
 
+24 # Madmedic 2013-10-09 10:13
We could only wish that the 30 or 40 tea baggers in Congress would choose this course of action to make their protests against "big gub'mnt" rather than self immolating the entire US economy.

The reason for the death of this poor man will be misreported in the truly "lame stream media", as they are totally cowed by the threats of the right wing sociopaths.

For too long the supposedly free press in this country has muzzled itself because of criticism that they were "the liberal press" when, in actuality, they were simply reporting the truth. The once great American free press truly has no guts and no honor.
 
 
+31 # Toribeth 2013-10-09 10:15
This is the clearest evidence that the media is bought and sold. Burying news like this is unconscionable. Americans are kept in the dark about world events (and this is one) while they are offered news of the marriages and sex lives of pretty men and women like Brad Pitt and Joline - along with sports scores.OMG--WTF !
 
 
+18 # reiverpacific 2013-10-09 10:20
"So why are news networks in the US all but silent in the aftermath of an October 4th self-immolation on the National Mall?"(Quote).
Well, the appalling, mud-hole-shallo w, US Corporate owner media is utterly and exclusively about selling product, ratings and revenue, "Feel-good" lying and manipulation of facts in their own favor, vapid stuffing as programing between ever-lengthy commercials and consumerist propaganda, whilst suppressing (as in in censorship) anything counter to it's heavily capitalist interests concentrated in fewer and fewer robber barons' hands.
Ignoring Capitalist-caus ed ecological nightmares like Fukushima, Hanford, Oil Rig spills, a corrupt SCOTUS and Government -O' Hell, you have y'r own lists I'm sure but the so-called "Fourth Estate" has been dead here for decades, hence this incident being reported by Al-Jazeera and the Wikileaks data being entrusted to "The Guardian" rather than any US outlet.
It answers itself -and that's why we have to have RSN, "Democracy Now" and the growing US "alternative" media which is what the mainstream behemoths should be.
 
 
+26 # Billy Bob 2013-10-09 10:23
American citizens don't all lack commitment. They lack power and they lack a voice.

The fact that the MSM refuses to report this, should be categorized under the same phenomenon that allowed them to OVER-report protests by a few dozen "T-partiers", while totally ignoring multiple anti-war protests involving literally millions of American citizens.
 
 
+20 # Kootenay Coyote 2013-10-09 10:46
& may we, please, not forget Norman Morrison, a young radical Quaker, who protested against the Viet Nam War by immolating himself on the Pentagon steps in 1965? & there have been others....
 
 
+9 # DaveM 2013-10-09 11:29
"Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man! We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out." --Hugh Latimer.
 
 
+1 # Nominae 2013-10-10 17:46
Quoting DaveM:
"Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man! We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out." --Hugh Latimer.


Great quote from Shakespeare's play ..... but, in England they actually *DID* turn words to action and, incredibly outnumbered, still achieved an almost miraculous victory over the French at Agincourt.

There is nothing in the U.S. on the National Stage to compare with the men Shakespeare was celebrating in his "History Plays", even if the plays themselves were a bit "biased" to secure the pleasure of his reigning monarch, Elizabeth I, and the English audience in general.
 
 
-5 # RobertMStahl 2013-10-09 11:35
Hallelujah. Please see Laura Poitras' film, The Oath. Structure is being lost for all the construction of an old guard, or a changing of the guard, money changers. Complimentary behaviors, or asymmetric complimentary associations in lieu of symmetric evolution, a product of conversation that is a step in time, have us all bent on extinction, ignorant of progress for these moderns in control. The non-verbal is where the verbal comes from, not the covert, neither overtly, only in that there is 'blue' attraction (heaven to the religious, inherent with applied intelligence in a structured setting) when the only other attractions are point and periodic, where this remains. The surveillance state has paved the way for good intentions of strength to find a way to hell for the intelligence of an entire species, or the meek. Free Barrett Brown. Terror has control over justice and the truth. We must get past this flame, and stay on this side of nuclear.
 
 
+8 # Cailleach 2013-10-09 15:08
??????????????? ??????????????? ??????????????
 
 
+1 # Nominae 2013-10-10 17:50
Quoting Cailleach:
?????????????????????????????????????????


Yeah, really ! Best I can figure is that, save the reference to freeing Barrett Brown, RobertMStahl has here decided to treat us to a quote from the Unibomber's Manifesto ! Whew !
 
 
+5 # Billy Bob 2013-10-09 18:32
I agree with Cailleach. In fact, I'll ad a few of my own:

???????

I think there's a basic rule of good writing that comes into play here - something about keeping it simple.
 
 
+3 # Nominae 2013-10-10 17:52
Quoting Billy Bob:
I agree with Cailleach. In fact, I'll ad a few of my own:

???????

I think there's a basic rule of good writing that comes into play here - something about keeping it simple.


It need not be specifically simple, but it damned-sure needs to be coherent.
 
 
0 # EternalTruth 2013-10-11 22:46
Let this be a reminder to all: Proper netiquette requires refraining from commenting while under the influence of large amounts of hallucinogens.
 
 
0 # hoodwinkednomore 2013-10-14 02:35
Out of meds?
 
 
+15 # pbbrodie 2013-10-09 11:37
The US news media is fast becoming the very definition of corrupt. It has become a full fledged corporate propaganda machine at the very least. How in the world can they justify not reporting this?!
 
 
+18 # Farafalla 2013-10-09 12:42
Indeed, "We have the right to know this man's name and his motives, just as much as we have the right to be able to have access to the vote and to have our votes counted in a transparent, democratic process." I hope this act of self sacrifice for the good of all Americans gets the same attention and respect given to veterans who lost their lives in wars that our government said were for the good of all.
 
 
-41 # skylinefirepest 2013-10-09 13:58
DISENFRANCHISEM ENT!!!! The rallying cry of those who are too damn lazy to get an id and vote. Now would one of y'all please explain just exactly WHO and HOW anyone is being "disenfranchise d" by having to get an id???
 
 
+19 # angelfish 2013-10-09 15:22
Quoting skylinefirepest:
DISENFRANCHISEMENT!!!! The rallying cry of those who are too damn lazy to get an id and vote. Now would one of y'all please explain just exactly WHO and HOW anyone is being "disenfranchised" by having to get an id???

Your insensitivity to some people's distress over this issue is appalling! It has NOTHING to do with being "too damned lazy" and EVERYTHING to do with the States in which they live. Some live in rural areas and have to go HUNDREDS of miles for the required I.D. People who have no personal transportation or access to Public Transport are effectively DENIED their RIGHT to Vote! There is also a concerted effort by the Hard Right TeaPublican Wing of the RePublican Party to throw as many people OFF the Election Rolls as they possibly can, especially in poorer or more depressed areas of the Country. WHERE is your empathy?
 
 
+3 # Billy Bob 2013-10-10 07:41
Fire Pest know this. (S)he is just repeating lies that have already been outed, because (s)he is hoping others haven't heard the truth and can easily be swayed.
 
 
+15 # cwbystache 2013-10-09 17:59
Having to present an id to vote is ITSELF un-American, being as it is contrary to the 4th Amendment.

Papers please!!
 
 
+13 # reiverpacific 2013-10-09 19:30
Quoting skylinefirepest:
DISENFRANCHISEMENT!!!! The rallying cry of those who are too damn lazy to get an id and vote. Now would one of y'all please explain just exactly WHO and HOW anyone is being "disenfranchised" by having to get an id???

Well, o' blinkered one, I for one am a RESIDENT, not a CITIZEN (Mainly because of the criminal, crappy, for-profit health don't care, non-system but with an ID) so I don't get to vote -but they take my taxes, so I'm goin' to do my share of shouting, asking impertinent and obnoxious questions of those in power that squander the taxes of their citizens and residents who struggle to pay them, without much of anything in return, except for a bloated military and corporate welfare.
And have you heard of the massive right wing vote-rigging by making it ever more difficult to get to a voting station for poor, physically challenged and "others" -like brown and black-skinned people shoved to the margins, profiled and locked up for trying to survive in any way they can.
And re-districting a.k.a. "Gerrymandering " by the Rethuglican dirty-tricks specialists.
Despair in living is the result for some driven to the edge and deprived of any reason for living -and that's not counting the huge increase in suicides by those who served in the forces for what they discover to be a lie -and sometimes come back, what's left of them, to find their homes foreclosed by a corporation bailed out by their grateful government!
ANY QUESTIONS??????
 
 
+9 # economagic 2013-10-09 19:37
That has been explained myriad times in many venues. If you missed it, it might be because you are looking the other way.
 
 
+5 # Dion Giles 2013-10-10 07:30
I have voted in elections for many years. It is a legal obligation. I have NEVER had to carry an ID, I have NEVER been subjected to onstruction or even discouragement, if I have been unable to make it to the polling booth I've received ample official help to get my vote in. Par for the course. I don't live in America.
 
 
-4 # cwbystache 2013-10-09 17:56
The first thing I thought when I read this was that the journalism here is at best irresponsible, at worst tendentious. The man was identified a couple days before this piece was released, Gibson must not have been keeping up. The event was much mentioned in the news here, even in darkest Arizona; it's funny to think we'd be hearing about it while so many people in other, enviably more progressive places apparently didn't catch it or have it announced to them ...

"The man who died last week after being found severely burned on the Mall was identified Monday night as a 64-year-old resident of New Jersey, and D.C. police said it was “now apparent that he set himself on fire.”

D.C. police gave the man’s name as John Constantino, and said he was 64, and from Mount Laurel.

An attorney who represents the man’s family released a statement Monday night asserting that Constantino acted not out of political motives but as the result of “a long battle with mental illness.’’
[...]

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/new-jersey-man-identified-as-mall-fire-victim/2013/10/08/02e2a734-2fcb-11e3-bbed-a8a60c601153_story.html
 
 
+3 # Billy Bob 2013-10-10 07:50
Perhaps there are two versions of the same story. I don't know, but does the attorney really really speak for the man, himself?

The above article is only going on what eye-witnesses reported at the scene. The article you cite makes no mention of what these witnesses claim.

The controversy seems to be between eye-witnesses and an attorney, who may be speaking to protect the family from political harassment.

I'm just making guesses here. I do know that these things are not often cut and dry, and the press has a tendency to whitewash.
 
 
+4 # karenvista 2013-10-09 20:02
But-witnesses said that he had set up a video camera on a tripod and was making a speech about voter supression prior to pouring the gasoline over his head and setting himself on fire.

They said the police took down the tripod and took the video camera while Mr. John Constantino, 64, of Mount Laurel, N.J. was being taken away by medics.

That his family has said, through their LAWYER, after days, that he was mentally ill could be due to any number of factors, including pressure or threats. Why would they need a lawyer?



Part 1
 
 
+6 # karenvista 2013-10-09 20:04
By Rich Schapiro AND Corky Siemaszko / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Tuesday, October 8, 2013, 11:22 AM.

The New Jersey man who died after setting himself ablaze on the National Mall in Washington had railed against the government and told a neighbor “America is falling apart.”

John Constantino “didn’t like the government for some reason,” neighbor Joe Horner told The Daily News.

“He said they were a waste of time, effort and money,” Horner, 56, said. “He said to me, ‘They’re no good. They don’t look out for us and they don’t care about anything but their own pockets.’”

Horner spoke out after Constantino’s family lawyer issued a statement saying his dramatic death Friday “was not a political act or statement, but the result of his long battle with mental illness.”

Horner said he saw his 64-year-old friend on Thursday and he showed no signs of being insane.

“He was his happy self,” said Horner, who lives on a few doors down from modest, two-story, book-filled townhouse in Mt. Laurel, N.J., that Constantino shared with his wife.

“There was no evidence, no sign of anything that would make you think he’d even be considering a think like that,” he said.

Part 2
 
 
+1 # ptalady 2013-10-12 15:16
“didn’t like the government for some reason”: sounds political to me!

But wait, why would anyone not like the government for some reason? Why would anyone accuse the government of not looking out for us and of caring only about their own pickets? A clear sign of insanity.... NOT!!!!
 
 
+6 # karenvista 2013-10-09 20:04
“People who are sad and depressed don’t do that,” he said. “I’m baffled.”

Constantino, a father of three grown children who once lived in Queens, was friendly, outgoing, and a member of the neighborhood association, neighbors said.

“If you needed a helping hand, that guy would help you,” Horner said. “It breaks my heart that he did that. I would have done anything to help but I didn’t know.”

Constantino’s incident took place on the National Mall in between the National Gallery of Art and the Air and Space Museum.

A second neighbor who only identified himself as John echoed Horner, calling the dead man “a good friend, a good neighbor.”

“John will be missed,” the distraught neighbor said, his voice halting.

Part 3
 
 
+7 # Activista 2013-10-10 12:09
"police took down the tripod and took the video camera while Mr. John Constantino, 64, of Mount Laurel, N.J. "
of course the statement of the man protesting US government will be censored/destro yed. All totalitarian governments call protesters against their rule "insane". But only actions bring the change. Ghandi, Martin Luther King .. ACT!
 
 
-3 # rainman 2013-10-12 14:14
A person who self-immolates is mentally ill. No individual political party can be blamed for this mental illness. As activists, we can try to improve mental health care. We waste valuable time in trying to attack various religions in our attempt to improve society. Less vitriol and more charity would help the situation. Will you stand for charity? No. You would rather sit on the sidelines and blame this or that government system... As activists, you should think outside the box.
 
 
0 # hoodwinkednomore 2013-10-14 02:40
So all those hundreds of monks are mentally ill? Come now. People are fed up. Spirits are crushed. It's not that hard to believe, discern, and/or imagine. I am surprised more folks haven't already--or haven't they? What about the young mother just shot to death in front of her baby in Washington DC? I call that a self-immolation ...
 
 
+1 # tigerlille 2013-10-13 00:41
"A person who self-immolates is mentally ill."

What an incredible blanket judgement. What authority do you have to make such a statement? You are showing total lack of respect for the many people internationally who out of desperation have resorted to self immolation to make a statement.
 

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