Anne and I are friends with Nikki Joly from my hometown of Jackson, Michigan. On Thursday of this week, the home she shares with her partner, Chris Moore, was destroyed by a fire, killing their two German Shepherds and three cats.
In addition to being a nurse and a veteran, Joly is the director of the Jackson Pride Center and both women are active in the LGBTQ community as active supporters of the city’s non-discrimination ordinance and LGBT rights in Jackson. The most chilling part of this story, beyond the tragedy of Nikki and Chris losing her pet family and everything they own, is that arson is suspected:
A fire that destroyed a two-story east side Jackson home and killed several pets on Thursday is being investigated as arson.
A Michigan State Police Fire Investigator is aiding in the investigation into the blaze that sparked inside the home in the 1800 block of Pringle Avenue at 1:17 p.m., Aug. 10, according to a Jackson Police Department press release.
Investigators determined an accelerant was used in the fire, leading police to believe the fire was intentionally set, Director of Police and fire service Elmer Hitt said.
Although the investigation is still underway, there is a tremendous amount of anti-LGBTQ animosity and hatred in Jackson following the debate over their non-discrimination ordinance and threats have been made:
A recent email obtained from the city confirms threats of violence toward the LGBTQ community one week before the pride celebration held on Aug. 5. It comes from Jackson Area Landlord Association’s President Robert Tulloch, who wrote in the email to members of Jackson’s city council, “I saw something on a site about marching to Blackman Park and raising a flag? I hope they are not planning to raise a gay flag. That is an in your face declaration of war and will be met with a violent response. This IS the queer agenda.”
Because of this, many people fear the worst. Nikki is asking everyone to stay calm while the investigation unfolds:
It’s clear why she and Chris are so beloved in their community.
A fundraiser is being held for Joly and Chris, who is also a nurse. It will take place on Tuesday, August 15th from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the St. Johns United Church of Christ/United Center (801 S Mechanic Street Jackson.) You can RSVP for the event and get more information and updates on the Facebook event page HERE. Another fundraiser is being held in Battle Creek on August 26th:
Finally, if you aren’t able to attend either of the fundraisers and still wish to help, you can donate online at their YouCaring page HERE. As I write this, they have only raised $315 and I KNOW we can do better than that for these two warriors for LGBTQ rights. Please join me and Anne by helping them out. We will never be able to bring back their beloved pet family members but we can at least help them get back on their feet after this terrible tragedy (and, perhaps, hate crime.)