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Transgender activist charged with setting own home on fire after claiming it was a hate crime

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Transgender activist Nikki Joly. Credit: Jackson PD.

A transgender activist in Michigan is being charged after the individual reportedly set fire to a home, killing five animals.

The only catch? The person who burned down the home is the same person that lived there.

Nikki Joly -a biological woman who identifies as a man- had initially been considered to be the victim of a hate crime when the Joly residence went up in flames in 2017, leaving the remains of five family pets among the ashes left behind.

Only six months prior, Joly had helped open the City of Jackson’s first gay community center, organized a gay festival and even lead an ordinance that prohibited discrimination in the conservative town.

Needless to say, authorities were later shocked to find that the person who burned down Nikki Joly’s home was none other than Nikki Joly, who had been previously titled “Citizen of the Year.”

According to the Detroit News, the mystery is thick- Joly didn’t own the house, and the property owner was the one who insured the domicile.

Two people working at the Jackson Pride Center alongside Joly, Barbara Shelton and Bobby James, believe that Joly needed to “stir the pot” after the fervor for gay rights had begun to settle in the wake of the anti-discrimination law’s passing.

Joly was allegedly disappointed that the Jackson Pride Parade and Festival, held only days before the fire, had not received as much attention -or even as much protest- as the activist would have liked.

Some locals feel that Joly’s need for attention -and subsequent acts of arson to drive that point home- have sullied the good work done by the LGBT community.

“All that good work is tainted. We know one bad mark outshines a hundred good ones,” said Stella Shananaquet, who has a gay son. “I’m infuriated someone could tear down the community that way.”

Soon, accounts from people who knew Joly as a person, knew that the activist was known for being combative, unwavering in personal views and even deceptive.

“Shelton and James both described Nikki as very deceptive and stated that when it comes to Nikki there are ‘layers of manipulation,’” police detective Aaron Grove wrote in the report.

Several individuals, ranging from residents to firefighters, risked personal safety to try and save Joly’s pets. However, the two German Shepherds and three cats would be sacrificed.

In the aftermath of the incident, Joly and others would rake in donations.

Upon investigating, police quickly found that Joly’s alibi fell apart, and that the short window of time that Joly was home was ample time to set a blaze.

“The timeline shows a window of less than five minutes for another person to enter the residence, splash gasoline around, ignite the fire and then leave without being scene,” wrote Grove.

Upon further questioning, both the FBI and local authorities determined Joly was the prime suspect, and it took thirteen months to make an arrest.

Joly has been charged with arson in connection to the incident, and the trial is ongoing.

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