Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin once decided to pursue justice for the Hispanic Community who had complained that they were receiving harsh and unfair treatment from Maricopa County’s sheriff. The subject of the complaints, America’s self-proclaimed toughest sheriff, coincidentally happened to have a very long list of people that he had sent to prison.
What was peculiar about his work, however, was the fact that he had held many more people in the county jails: he had never had a balanced ratio between arrests and convictions.
As professional journalists with a history and reputation for exposing discrimination and oppression, the two veteran reporters made a probe into the official activities of Mr Arpiao to determine whether the allegations made about him were true.
After conducting enough objective investigations, Jim and Lacey unearthed enough evidence to indict the sheriff for offenses including but not limited to:
- Racial profiling of members of the Hispanic community
- Cruel treatment of jail mates (he would make inmates to put on pink undergarments and stay like that on cold jail floors)
- Abuse of office (he would use his official powers to punish people for personal reasons)
The sheriff breached his mandate one last time by arresting the two journalists to settle a personal vendetta. His reason for the arrest was not official; he just did it for the objective of intimidation and punishment. However, his luck ran out on him when the two journalists, aware of their rights, and patriotic enough to defend them, decided to sue for wrongful arrest.
They lost in the ligation against the unethical law enforcer at the initial stages. However, the two were so determined to serve justice and set precedence that they kept appealing through the circuit courts.
The ninth appellate court granted them justice and found Mr Arpiao at fault. The court ordered the Maricopa County to pay 3.7 million dollars as compensation for damages incurred because of the arrest.
The two, despite having set a heroic and historic precedence of the people, decided to do more. They set up the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund to advance the push for the protection of the Hispanic community from any human rights violations.
Jim and Lacey also decided to emulate some of the effective litigation strategies that some existing human rights lobby groups have employed through the past decades.
Some of the groups and organizations that the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund have lifted strategies from and partnered with include the Puento Arizona and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
One of the most effective methods of elevating the position of immigrants in the American society is the Closed Fist Approach. Lobby groups and foundations like the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund use it to combat draconian laws that criminalize immigration not by word but by spirit.
Such laws provide for the profiling of persons by race and detaining and deporting immigrants without due process. Lobby groups challenge such laws directly in court for unconstitutionality.
The Open Hand Approach, another effective method employed by activists, entails funding lawsuits that set certain precedence against oppressive law enforcement bodies and individuals.
Learn more about Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin:
About Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund
New Times Founders Lacey and Larkin Return to the News
In 2012 Michael Lacey, Chief Editor and founder of the Phoenix New Times, and Jim Larkin, CEO of the New Times and Village Voice Media, retired from the news game. The duo had been making headlines since 1970, offering counterculture articles that gave voice to the other side. They had taken fledgling independent rag Phoenix New Times, and turned it into a multi-million dollar conglomerate stretching from coast to coast. The 2012 sale of Village Voice Media was a culmination of all they had worked so hard for. They had gone up against a tyrant with their long-running feud with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, stood up for the defenseless with their support of the Latin community, and even sacrificed for the cause with their 2007 arrest. The two had created a legacy, and could retire as legitimate newsmakers. Now in the wake of Joe Arpaio’s pardon and announcement for Senate consideration, the duo is returning to the news world with an online independent news source called Front Page Confidential. Front Page will do for online media what New Times did for printed media.
As with Phoenix New Times, Front Page Confidential will focus on the First Amendment, and will offer counterculture articles. Since 2014 the duo has been operating the Frontera Fund, a charity supporting Latin-American groups throughout Arizona. The fund is financed using the $3.75 million dollar payout from their 2013 wrongful arrest victory. The 2007 arrest occurred when the duo printed a confidential grand jury subpoena under their combined byline. The outrage that followed led to their release and the wrongful arrest lawsuit. Their continuing support of Latin-America will be a focus of Front Page Confidential, which will assuredly hound Arpaio in his Senate run.