Man sets himself on fire outside court where Donald Trump is on trial

Video images appear to show a man kneeling on the ground and waving his arms as flames engulf him

A man set himself on fire on Friday outside the lower Manhattan courthouse where Donald Trump is on trial in a hush-money case.

Pictures of the man in flames were carried live on television and spread on X, the social media network formerly known as Twitter.

The incident occurred just as judge Juan Merchan was recessing for lunch on the third day of the former president’s trial for fraud, shortly after a full jury of 12, and six alternates, were seated.

It happened in a fenced-off area of the plaza close to where small numbers of protesters have gathered each day since the trial began on Monday, other than Wednesday’s day off.


Video images showed what appeared to be a man kneeling on the ground, and waving his arms, as flames engulfed him. Television commentators described the scene as a number of police officers and a man in a civilian suit ran towards him.

The New York Times reported that he had thrown leaflets espousing anti-government conspiracy theories into the air before setting himself on fire.

One person attempted to swat at the flames with a coat or blanket, before another sprayed a fire extinguisher at him. The man remained motionless, and was eventually taken away on a gurney, the Associated Press reported.

A bystander described the incident: “He made a noise and he threw all those pamphlets. It’s shocking. There’s some people crying in the park. There’s just nothing you can do.”

The New York Fire Department said the man was in a critical condition.

Inside the courtroom, judge Merchan, seemingly unaware of events outside, told the newly selected jurors that opening statements were set for Monday at 9.30am, and recessed the hearing for lunch.

CNN reported that a person walked up to Mr Trump inside the courtroom and spoke quietly in his ear.

The jury consists of seven men and five women, mostly employed in white-collar professions: two corporate lawyers, a software engineer, a speech therapist and an English teacher. Most are not native New Yorkers, coming from across the United States and countries such as Ireland and Lebanon.

Mr Trump is accused of covering up a $130,000 payment his former lawyer Michael Cohen made to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election to keep quiet about a sexual encounter she says they had a decade earlier. – Guardian. Additional reporting: Agencies.