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Police arrest transgender activist for burning down own home in alleged hate crime hoax

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Interesting turn of events

Police arrested a 54-year-old gay rights leader in Michigan for reportedly burning down his own home in August 2017 as a staged hate crime.

The fire killed five pets. No people were injured as a result of the fire.

What are the details?

After an investigation, authorities have accused Nikki Joly — who was once a local newspaper's Citizen of the Year — of setting the blaze that killed several animals in 2017.

Prior to the investigation, the local LGBTQ community celebrated Joly's efforts in helping to erect a community center for gay citizens, spearheading the creation of a gay pride parade, and even pushed for locals laws forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The incident was initially investigated as a hate crime, as Joly reported receiving threats in the days leading up to the fire.

Joly, a transgender activist in the area, reportedly burned his own residence down as a way to gain publicity and notoriety for his crusade of transgender activism.

Investigators said that Joly purchased $10 worth of gasoline on the day his rental house burned, and traces of gasoline were discovered on the activist's clothing. Gasoline was also discovered inside the home. Joly insisted that he purchased the gas to mow the lawn.

Also, the Metro reported that the loss of Joly's home prompted a $58,000 fundraiser to benefit him and his wife.

What else?

According to the report, Joly neither confirmed nor denied that he set the blaze to his home during an early police interview.

Joly, who appeared in court earlier in February, denied that he deliberately set the fire.

Daniel Barnett, Joly's attorney, said that it just wouldn't make sense for his client to do such a thing.

"He was citizen of the year," Barnett said. "There was plenty of media coverage already before the fire."

The case is ongoing. You can read more about the background here.

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