Police have arrested an upstate-New York firefighter who they believe set fire to his own home and then pointed the finger at those who took issue with his “Blue Lives Matter” flag, which flew in front of it.
The New York Daily News reports that Jason Stokes, 41, allegedly set fire to his Endicott, N.Y., home this summer. He was recently charged with second-degree arson.
"We knew fairly soon into the investigation that he was a suspect, but that's not uncommon in any fire," said Endicott Fire Chief Joseph Griswold. “You always have to look at the people who live there.”
Fusion reports that firefighters who responded to the August blaze at about 2:30 a.m. found multiple gas cans arranged throughout the house to create an “obstacle course,” Broome County, N.Y., District Attorney Steve Cornwell said in a news conference. Stokes allegedly set the fire while his wife and two teenage daughters slept inside the house. They were not hurt in the blaze.
After the fire, a relative said that the family was being targeted because of the “Blue Lives Matter” flag. A message reading, “Lie with pigs, fry like bacon” was written on the side of the home. It doesn’t take a huge logical jump to deduce that someone black could have written such a message.
Fusion reports that the line is a reference to an August 2015 incident in which some protesters chanted, “Pigs in a blanket, fry them like bacon” at the Minnesota State Fair, which prompted a massive response in the conservative media.
Cornwell told WBNG, however, that Jason Stokes was the one who wrote the message.
Because Stokes has worked with the Endicott Fire Department since March 2005, his colleagues cannot investigate the incident. Stokes, who is charged with felony arson, faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.