Transgender gay rights activist 'burned down his own home' while pets were still inside and 'made it look like hate crime'
Nikki Joly, who organized multiple pro-LGBTQ events and was named Citizen of the Year, stands accused of intentionally setting fire to his own house in Jackson, Michigan
A transgender and gay rights leader has been arrested for allegedly burning down his own home in an attempt to make it look like a hate crime, according to reports. The activist, identified as Nikki Joly, who organized multiple pro-LGBTQ events, now stands accused of intentionally setting fire to his own house in Jackson, Michigan in 2017 while his five pets were still inside.
The pets reportedly died in the blaze and the FBI launched an investigation into the incident as a hate crime. However, according to a new police report, Joly was just looking for more publicity to advance his cause.
‘17 MI: Nikki Joly allegedly targeted in anti-trans attack that burnt the activist's home, killing all 5 pets. Joly later arrested after investigation. Gasoline found on his clothes. Colleagues said he was unhappy LGBT issues weren’t controversial anymore. https://t.co/LdYpREQ3kc pic.twitter.com/2G03u6aZcF— Andy Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) February 25, 2019
Joly, who was named Citizen of the Year, is a celebrated personality in the local LGBTQ community for assisting in building a gay community center, organizing a gay pride parade and helping to push through a law at a local level forbidding firms from discrimination based on sexual orientation, according to the Daily Mail.
A member of the LGBTQ community, Travis Trombley, while speaking to The Detroit News about Joly, said: "It's embarrassing? How do you do it to the community you have put so much effort into helping?"
The police report stated that two members — Shelton and James — of the St. John's United Church of Christ, where the gay community center is located, believed that Joly wanted to generate more buzz about the LGBTQ rights in the locality. Reports state that he had allegedly become disappointed after the 2017 Jackson Pride Parade and Festival did not generate more publicity.
Investigator Aaron Grove, who interrogated the two members, said that they described Joly as "very deceptive" and possessing "layers of manipulation," according to Metro News.
The fire occurred shortly after Joly got married and the couple received $58,000 in fundraising from their supporters. The activist, after the fire, took to Facebook, and addressed his supporters, saying: "Yes, be angry, be very angry. Use that anger to force good! Use that anger to make change."
However, police became suspicious of Joly after they discovered he had bought $10 of gas at a local Marathon store on the morning of the fire. Joly, in his defense, said that he had used the gas to cut the grass, however, his version of how he spent his day meant that there was only a five-minute window for a person to break into his house, douse it with fuel and set it ablaze, reports state.
According to the police report, gasoline was found in at least five rooms of Joly's wooden-frame, two-story house and traces of gasoline were also found on the activist's clothes.
Joly, who made his first appearance in court earlier this month, has denied intentionally setting his house ablaze. While his attorney Daniel Barnett reportedly said that the activist was happy with the level of attention he had earlier received. "It doesn't make sense. He was citizen of the year. There was plenty of media coverage already before the fire," Barnett said.
Joly was reportedly charged with one felony count of first-degree arson in October 2018 and two counts of animal killing in December. The case is ongoing.