US

Transgender Activist Accused Of Burning Down Own Home In Hate Crime Hoax

REUTERS

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief

Police have reportedly arrested a Jackson, Michigan transgender and gay rights activist for allegedly burning down his own home.

Authorities accuse Nikki Joly, who organized a series of pro-LGBTQ events and initiatives in the socially conservative town, of intentionally setting fire to their own residence in 2017, The Detroit News reported Monday. Five pets perished in the inferno and the FBI investigated the incident as a hate crime, given that Joly had allegedly received threats prior to the fire.

But a police report indicates that Joly was looking for further publicity to advance his cause.

The arrest has shocked locals on both sides of the LGBTQ rights issue, especially in the wake of actor Jussie Smollett being accused of staging his own hate crime in order to promote his career. (RELATED: Jussie Smollett’s Legal Team Won’t Admit He Isn’t A Victim)

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 06: Jussie Smollett speaks at the Children's Defense Fund California's 28th Annual Beat The Odds Awards at Skirball Cultural Center on December 6, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images)

Jussie Smollett speaks at the Children’s Defense Fund California’s 28th Annual Beat The Odds Awards at Skirball Cultural Center on Dec. 6, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images)

Joly has been celebrated in the local LGBTQ community for helping build a gay community center, organizing a gay pride parade and advocating for a municipal ordinance forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation. Joly was even named Citizen of the Year, The News notes.

“It’s embarrassing? How do you do it to the community you have put so much effort into helping?” Travis Trombley, who is homosexual, asked The News. (RELATED: Here’s. A List Of Hoax Hate Crimes In The Trump Era)

People rally to protest the Trump administration’s reported transgender proposal to narrow the definition of gender to male or female at birth, at City Hall in New York City, U.S., Oct. 24, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

But police investigating the charge offered a possible motive.

According to a police report, referenced by the News, two members of the St. John’s United Church of Christ, where the gay community center is located, believe that Joly was anxious to generate more news about LGBTQ rights. Barbara Shelton and Bobby James say Joly was visibly disappointed that the 2017 Jackson Pride Parade and Festival did not generate more publicity — good or bad.

According to Metro News, investigator Aaron Grove, who interrogated Shelton and James, said the pair described Joly as “very deceptive” and possessing “layers of manipulation.”

Joly had just been married before the fire, and the two were the recipients of $58,000 in fundraising from supporters, Metro News noted.

Follow David on Twitter