A New York firefighter is accused of setting his own house on fire and attempting to blame it on the Black Lives Matter movement. Jason Stokes, 41, pleaded not guilty to arson at Broome County Court after his house in Endicott caught ablaze in August.
Stokes' family were inside the house at the time of the fire, but managed to escape without injury. The family believed their home was purposely targeted as they had a Blue Lives Matter flag outside their home.
There was also a message reading "lie with pigs, fry like bacon" graffitied on the house – a reference to a chant reportedly sung by some members of the anti-police brutality movement at a Minnesota State Fair.
Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell confirmed the message was found at the scene, but believes Stokes wrote it himself as part of a plan to cover-up his crime.
"That statement to me is absolutely despicable," Cornwell told WBNG. "It fuels a false narrative when it comes to the work that police officers do."
Police also found multiple gas canisters inside the home as part of an apparent booby trap. "We don't need to show a motive, we need to show intent," Cornwell added.
Stokes was eventually arrested and charged with a felony count of second-degree arson. He is currently being held at the Broome County Jail and faces up to 25 years in jail if found guilty.