The presidential pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio certainly must rank amongst the strangest in history. The disgraced former sheriff looked to be heading for jail time himself after being convicted of contempt of court.
Arpaio’s career had already been notorious for his infamous Tent City and the mistreatment of inmates. He had also been the man behind the wrongful imprisonment of freedom fighting journalists Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, a wrongful imprisonment that was later settled in a lawsuit in which Larkin and Lacey were awarded $3.75 million in settlement money. Learn more about Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin: https://twitter.com/JimLarkin_ and http://james-larkin.com/about/
The arrest of Lacey and Larkin occurred just over ten years ago and happened under the cover of darkness. Maricopa County Sheriff’s arrested the two journalists behind civil rights crusading Village Voice Media under the trumped-up charges that they disclosed information regarding a grand-jury hearing. Larkin and Lacey ended up spending 24 days in jail before being released.
Joe Arpaio had been mired in a series of accusations about the conduct of his department. These ranged from mistreatment of inmates, to embezzlement charges. Village Voice Media was among the first media outlets to cover Arpaio’s offences.
The sheriff even continued his activities after being warned by United States District Judge Murray Snow that his detentions of immigrants were illegal. Arpaio remained defiant and continued encouraging his deputies to continue the questionable practices.
After the huge settlement was awarded to Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, Joe Arpaio found himself in a bad place in regard to public sentiment. He lost his bid for a seventh term as sheriff and soon found himself convicted of contempt of court.
This is the point that President Donald Trump comes into the picture. Arpaio, perhaps sensing that his time was up, started to endorse the Trump campaign for president. The situation turned even more strange when Donald Trump started to hint that he would pardon Joe Arpaio. This hint turned to reality as Trump became president. Suddenly, Joe Arpaio found himself free of having to serve any time for his heinous crimes. Read more: Village Voice Media | Wikipedia and Michael Lacey | Twitter
During Arpaio’s long tenure as Sheriff of Maricopa County, the Latino community suffered greatly. Arpaio’s policies were focussed on promoting racist policies and Arpaio’s supporters rallied around him and his rhetoric. It is truly hard to say exactly what will happen next. The silver lining in all of this may be that Arpaio’s record as sheriff has been exposed.
The other positive to come out of this is that the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund has been established due to the settlement money the journalists received. The fund continues to fight for immigrant and migrant rights.
Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin have been crusading for human and civil rights since the early 1970s when they were in college. They are also huge advocates for free speech and the rights of immigrants and migrants. The pair founded the Phoenix New Times in the early 70s as a media outlet to raise awareness of social issues related to these topics.