And Another One! Gay Rights Activist Set Own Home on Fire in Fake Hate Crime

Discussion in 'LGBT News and Events' started by Nick Delmacy, Feb 28, 2019.

  1. Nick Delmacy

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    A transgender man and gay rights activist in Michigan once named “Citizen of the Year” by a local newspaper is now accused of intentionally burning down his house two years ago, killing his two dogs and three cats.

    Nikki Joly, 54, was named by the Jackson City Patriot last year as the conservative town’s top citizen after organizing its first gay community center and gay pride festival. He also helped pass an ordinance that prohibits discrimination against homosexuals in employment, housing and public facilities after nearly two decades of failed attempts, the Detroit News reports.

    Joly was later charged with first-degree arson after authorities determined the blaze was intentionally set — and that the timeline of events made it difficult for anyone but him to have ignited the fire that killed his two German shepherds and three cats, according to a police report obtained by the newspaper.

    Two people who worked with Joly at St. Johns United Church of Christ told police that he had been frustrated that the Jackson Pride Parade and Festival didn’t attract more protests or generate more attention for gay rights.

    One of the church officials, Bobby James, declined to comment when reached by a reporter, while Barbara Shelton stopped short of that assessment, saying police may have mischaracterized what she told investigators.

    “Not sure I said that,” Shelton wrote the newspaper in an email. “I have no idea about anything, never heard Nikki comment in any fashion about anything like that.”

    Joly’s attorney, meanwhile, has dismissed the charges, saying his client had no need to generate more attention for his activism, especially since Joly has said he’s received death threats in the past because of it.

    “It doesn’t make sense,” attorney Daniel Barnett told the newspaper. “He was citizen of the year. There was plenty of media coverage already before the fire.”

    Traces of gasoline were found in five rooms inside Joly’s two-story, wood-frame home, which he shared with his partner, Chris Moore, according to the police report. Two days later, Joly urged supporters on Facebook not to respond to the fire with threats of additional violence.

    “Yes, be angry, be very angry,” Joly wrote. “Use that anger to force good! Use that anger to make change.”

    During an interview two weeks later with police and two FBI agents investigating the fire as a possible hate crime, Joly dropped his head at one point during a four-hour session. But he did not deny or admit setting the fire, although traces of gasoline were also found on the clothing he wore on the day of the fire, according to the report.

    “We determined it pretty quickly to be an arson,” Jackson’s director of police and fire services, Elmer Hitt, told the Detroit Free Press. “We investigated it over what probably was a year’s time before the prosecutor ended up issuing charges.”

    A hearing to file motions in the case is scheduled for March 8, according to the Detroit News.

    The case has drawn comparisons to the case of actor Jussie Smollett, who has been charged with disorderly conduct for falsely reporting a racist attack in Chicago. Still, some of Joly’s supporters said they will never believe he set the blaze.

    “There’s no path for me to believe it could ever be true,” said Elody Samuelson, a bisexual woman who raised money for Joly after the blaze. “There’s no way he did it — not a bit, not a chance.”

    https://nypost.com/2019/02/26/gay-rights-activist-set-own-home-on-fire-in-phony-hate-crime-cops/
     
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