It all started when Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio stormed into the houses of two journalists and cuffed them. According to Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, the incident took place on the eve of October 18, 2007. The two co-founders of Village Voice Media were hurriedly removed from their respective homes and forced to enter SUVs with dark tinted windows. The SUVs, which had Mexican license plates, were driven to nearby jails where the journalists were locked up separately.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio referred himself as “America’s toughest sheriff.” Besides his alter egos, he had a lot of misdeeds under his name. The Phoenix New Times tried to expose his anti-Mexican sentiments and police brutality antics to the public. Apparently, Arpaio did not take the news positively. He arrested Lacey and Larkin who were the masterminds behind Phoenix New Times.
Sheriff Arpaio’s Abuse of Office Uncovered
Lacey and Larkin both played a role in publishing a cover story regarding Arpaio’s wicked antics. The story revealed that Arpaio had allies in the County Attorney’s office who helped him to issue grand jury subpoenas to Phoenix New Times. The subpoenas were seeking personal details about the newspapers’ readers, editors, and writers. Within the 24 hours of their arrest, Lacey and Larkin were set free with all charges against them dropped.
Lacey and Larkin Battling for their Rights in Court
After their release, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin did not hesitate to file a lawsuit against Maricopa County. Their lawsuit was based on abuse of power and violations of their First Amendment rights. Several court proceedings later, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal stated that the journalists’ arrest was without probable cause in 2012. One year later, a settlement agreement that stated that Maricopa County was to pay $3.7 million to the journalists was reached.
Lacey and Larkin agreed to use the money to establish an initiative known as the Frontera Fund. This initiative had a goal of benefiting the Latinos living in Arizona since most of them were victims of racial profiling and civil rights abuses. Larkin learned that one ought to support the less fortunate as he was growing up in Arizona. He continues to work towards this goal through the Frontera Fund with Lacey.