(no subject)

john E manifesto (jyanno@thunder.ocis.temple.edu)
Wed, 23 Oct 1996 09:04:14 -0400 (EDT)


Wednesday, October 23, 1996

Peace protester stages fiery death
Artist ends life at her favorite Penn site

by Leon Taylor
and Jack McGuire
Daily News Staff Writers

Kathleen Chang danced for peace. She sang, waved flags and protested for

And when she reached the end of her fraying emotional rope, Chang, 46,
went to her familiar
stomping grounds at the University of Pennsylvania and ended it all near
the symbol of peace.

At about 11:20 yesterday morning, Chang walked to the peace-sign
sculpture on the lawn outside
the Van Pelt Library at 36th and Locust Walk, doused herself with gas and
set herself afire as
passers-by watched in horror.

A Penn police officer helped extinguish the flames before a fire rescue
unit arrived on the scene.
But it was too late.

Chang sustained burns over 95 percent of her body, police said. She was
pronounced dead at
11:45 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Penn officials and university security police would say only that Chang
was not affiliated with
Penn in any way. The identity of the Penn officer who tried to rescue her
was being withheld by
Penn officials and police.

The death has been ruled an apparent suicide, police said.

Chang -- who rented a studio on Lancaster Avenue near 38th Street, but
lived mostly with a
boyfriend on Spring Garden Street near 33rd -- has been battling mental
problems for years,
according to police.

A police source said Chang had threatened to kill herself before, but
details were unavailable.

Yesterday, the source said,

Chang left some papers and a suicide note in a shopping cart near her

``Please don't try to save me,'' the note read, according to the source.

In the note, the source said, Chang also left instructions on how to
dispose of her remains.

``Leave my body for organ study, fertilizer or dog food.''

Police said a one-gallon container recovered at the scene was believed to
have held the gasoline
Chang used.

Chang apparently had been planning her self-immolation -- perhaps over
the course of several days
-- said a source close to the investigation.

According to the source, the preliminary investigation showed that Chang
had experimented at
home with different fuels on meat. Alcohol proved unsatisfactory, so she
tried gas, the source

Chang often dressed outlandishly and was a familiar oddity in her
Powelton neighborhood, at
Penn and in the areas around the Reading Terminal and the Art Museum.
Investigators spent a
good part of yesterday interviewing witnesses and trying to piece
together the tattered life of the
lithe and eccentric woman who often danced to music only she could hear
while twirling large
flags bearing messages supporting world peace or the legalization of

The scene in front of the Van Pelt Library was cleaned up by early
afternoon. Many of the Penn
students who studied on nearby park benches or strolled along Locust Walk
near 36th Street were
unaware of the incident that had happened hours earlier and just yards
from the library steps.

Anita King, a neighbor and friend of Chang's for more than a decade, said
she might have the

She said Chang may have felt that a dramatic gesture was the only way to
get her message of
world peace across.

King described Chang as an energetic, ``full-time protester,'' who
dabbled in oil painting and
occasionally wrote protest songs and gave massages. She lived modestly
and did not have a
full-time job.

Chang was a classically trained ballet dancer who made costumes and
enjoyed cooking her own
vegetarian dishes.

Chang and playwright Alfred Wong were divorced about 10 years ago, King

According to King, Chang visited the Penn campus ``just about every day''
to protest against war,
capitalism, drug laws and other causes.

``About a week ago, they prohibited her from demonstrating on Penn's
campus,'' King said. ``I
think maybe they felt threatened by her degree of influence on the

Staff writers Joe O'Dowd and Julie Knipe Brown contributed to this report.

Philadelphia Online -- Philadelphia Daily News --
Local News
Copyright Wednesday, October 23, 1996

*John E. Manifesto*
the generals sip bacardi while the privates feel the pain