Malachi Ritscher

On Saturday the Sun-Times reported that a man had apparently committed suicide by setting himself on fire beside the Kennedy Expressway. Peter Margasak is now reporting in the Reader, and more extensively on his blog, that it’s likely* that the man was Malachi Ritscher, a supporter of Chicago’s jazz and improvised music scene.

Buried on Ritscher’s web site Chicago Rash Audio Potential, a compendium of invaluable show postings, artwork, and photography, are a suicide note and an obituary. Both indicate that he was deeply troubled by the war in Iraq and pinpoint it as a motive for suicide (no method is specified), though there are indications that he may have had other issues as well. “He had a son, from whom he was estranged (at the son’s request), and two grandchildren,” reads the obit. “He had many acquaintances, but few friends; and wrote his own obituary, because no one else really knew him.” Ritscher was a familiar face at antiwar protests, and he was arrested more than once for his involvement, including this time this past May. A note found at the scene of the immolation reportedly read “Thou Shalt Not Kill.”

There have only been 4 previous (politically-motivated) self-immolations in the U.S.

* The ID has been confirmed by the medical examiner and Richard Roeper wrote a column about Ritscher today, calling it a “futile” gesture.

(via tinyluckygenius)

8 Comments so far

  1. Bill V (unregistered) on November 9th, 2006 @ 5:10 pm

    Thanks for cheering us up :)

  2. Karen Roselle (unregistered) on November 25th, 2006 @ 5:48 pm

    I’m just now learning about this and I feel ill. I could easily have gone the way of this brilliant, isolated, hopeless man. What makes me the most upset is the lack of news coverage. Granted, Pentagon TV won’t cover these things. What would we do without the internet? People of heart and soul are banding together and saying “ENOUGH”….. There’s hope, people. The Republicrats can’t do it. The PEOPLE can. Put your money where your mouth is. Give small amounts to progressive groups that spread the word. Boycott Wal-Mart, the Gap, and all sweat shops. Buy green! Get back to your spiritual center and pray your butt off!

    I hate to use Malachi’s death as a soapbox….but his death has to mean something! This is an opportunity to spread the word that “THIS SHIT HAS TO STOP NOW”…..One of my particular vehicles is 11-11TV…..Google it. Visionaries who see the upcoming planetary shifts and are helping others prepare for them. It’s all GOOD!

    Information is seeding this planet so fast heads are spinning. I’m 54, I lived on Ashbury Street. I’ve licked envelopes, been arrested, marched, you name it, now for 38 years now and that’s just THIS lifetime.

    Check out 2012, guys.

    Let’s get our backs up again….. we’re in the end zone here.

  3. J. Dunn (unregistered) on November 27th, 2006 @ 9:22 am

    Ritscher’s setting himself on fire to die was just plain “stupid” and signs of a mental retarded person. It will make no difference in how many more die in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world! This guy got his 15 minutes of fame a week after his “moron way of protesting” and will be forgotten by 99% of the nation in less time. Only the fools who heap praise on Ritscher for killing himself will remember him after a week to ten days. Many of those as well will have forgotten him in two weeks. What is the point of remembering someone who was so freaking stupid?

  4. erikbarton (unregistered) on November 27th, 2006 @ 7:10 pm

    If you really feel like going ” the way of this brilliant, isolated, hopeless man” I’m sure there are plenty of folks who would happily donate gas.

  5. PsyGirl (unregistered) on November 27th, 2006 @ 8:27 pm

    This one man’s death is enough to make me stop and rethink American policy. I was always raised to support our government no matter what wars we got into. But if enough other anti-American activists were to do like Malachi Ritscher did, I might actually become convinced to become a liberal. Like if ten or twelve of them set themselves on fire on the evening news, and it got a lot of attention.

  6. Michael Finnerty (unregistered) on November 27th, 2006 @ 11:36 pm

    Malachi Ritscher was a man of rare courage.
    He gave his life to stop the slaughter in Iraq.
    The people intent on stealing Iraqi Oil and
    were willing to attack Iraq, based on a pack of
    lies, couldn’t care less.

    Hats Off to you Malachi Ritscher.

    We heard you.

  7. Fuzzy (unregistered) on November 28th, 2006 @ 5:23 am

    Hey now, erikbarton, we can disagree and still be civil.

  8. Alien Being (unregistered) on November 28th, 2006 @ 1:25 pm

    The problem is that people shouldn’t have to kill themselves to help the world realize that this war is unfounded. George W. Bush is the first president in the history of our nation to attack a country that didn’t first attack us. Iraq does not have an air force. Iraq is breaking out in civil war right now… hundreds being killed daily in protest of the change we’ve inflicted upon them.

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