In 2007 law abiding citizens Michael Lacy and Jim Larkin were taken into police custody at night from their homes by agents from the Maricopa County Selective Enforcement Unit. They were charged with disclosing details about a grand jury investigation. Sheriff Joe Arpaio made the order to go after both men.
When both were put into handcuffs they were respected writers for the Phoenix New Times. Lacey was executive editor of the Village Voice Media newspaper chain and Larkin Served as the company’s CEO. Just hours leading up to their arrest they’d published a story about the grand-jury probe in the publication. One of the controversial statements in the article was the fact they believed the grand jury was investigating them.
This angered sheriff Arpaio, especially since theNew Times had been exposing the corrupt behavior of his department for well over a decade, dating back to 1992 when he was elected to the position. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/about-lacey-larkin-frontera-fund/michael-lacey/
Sheriff Arpaio had been called out for many misdeeds including orders to shackle expectant mothers to their beds during childbirth to covering up the high number of detainees who died in his jail cells. The sheriff even partook in dirty tactics in order to defeat his political foes.
Despite the sheriff’s vendetta against the two men he was the one who ultimately paid the price. His bias against Latinos led to a federal civil rights lawsuit, that in term caused his downfall.
Lacey’s and Larkin’s arrest also damaged the reputation of the department. It was a blatant violation of a journalist’s first amendment right. The public quickly took the side of Lacey and Larkin and put enough pressure on the department to have them released. Still, Maricopa County paid the two men a $3.75 million settlement to set right the wrongful arrests.
The newsmen used the money to launch the Frontera Fund, a non-profit which works to uphold the rights of migrants and immigrants. It is a direct opposition to men like Arpaio and his beliefs. In 2017 Arpaio was charged with criminal contempt of court and faced prison time. Read more: Village Voice Media | Wikipedia and Phoenix New Times | Wikipedia
However, for his support of the Trump campaign the president pardoned him for his crime. This saddened the two journalists, but nonetheless they were happy that he failed miserably in his bid for reelection.
About Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin
The two newsmen met while attending Arizona State University. Lacey dropped out when he and a pair of students published the inaugural issue of Phoenix New Times. Two years later Larkin also dropped out. With Lacey as executive editor and Larkin leading the way on the advertising side, the alternative newspaper became very successful.