Maricopa County was controlled by the Selective Enforcement Unit of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. On October 18th of 2007 he had Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin arrested under dubious circumstances. They were taken in the dead of night at their private residences and deposited into separate jail cells. Joe Arpaio considered himself America’s Toughest Sheriff and was incensed by his manipulation of the law being exposed by the Phoenix New Times. He targeted the Latinos who had immigrated to the area so they could work and take care of their families.
Although most of the newspapers dismissed the Sheriff’s actions and thought of him as nothing more than offbeat, the Phoenix New Times did not agree. They published stories about how he was mismanaging his office, abusing his critics, suspicious financial activity, his unfair and unjust treatment of Latinos, and worst of all the deaths that had occurred due to the mistreatment and health conditions suffered by the men held in his jail. Lacey and Larkin were writers for the Phoenix New Times. Their revelations in a cover story regarding Sheriff Joe Arpaio infuriated the Sheriff. He had issued subpoenas in an attempt to gather personal information pertaining to the readers of the papers.
The reaction of the public instigated the release of Mike Lacy and Jim Larkin within a 24-hour period with all charges dismissed. Since their detention had been illegal a prolonged court battle ensued. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals made their decision in 2012. They stated their First Amendment rights had been violated and the Sheriff had abused his power. The subpoenas issued were deemed invalid because legal procedures were not followed and there was no probable cause to justify the arrests. Lacey and Larkin received a settlement of $3.7 million in 2013.
The settlement was the start of The Frontera Fund to help the Hispanic community and stop their civil rights from being abused. These people have been unjustly persecuted for withstanding the perils of crossing the desert to find honest work and secure their futures. Lacey and Larkin have been silently distributing their settlement to nonprofit organizations advocating for Hispanic rights. According to Lacey, the sheriff had been demonizing Latino migrants and feeding a fear that ISIS terrorists were entering Arizona through Mexico. As so well stated by Mike Lacey everyone is a migrant and this is why the people of Arizona need to stand behind the equality of the migrant Latino’s.
Larkin, Lacey, and Arpaio
On a dark night in 2008, agents of the Maricopa County Selective Enforcement Unit, led by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, unlawfully arrested Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin. The sheriff charged with disclosing the details of a grand jury investigation. The two men were said to have revealed this information through their Village Voice Media newspaper chain where Lacey was the executive editor and Larkin was CEO. The two did not attempt to hide the fact that they had indeed published the information in the company’s newspaper, The Phoenix New Times.
However, the revelation by the newspaper was not illegal. The arrest itself was illegal. In fact, Arpaio was not really arresting them for the disclosure. This was the culmination of several years of the newspaper company writing about many illegal actions perpetrated by the police department under the leadership of Arpaio. There is a long list of almost unbelievable actions that have been named through the years concerning Arpaio, from ordering expectant mothers shackled to their beds to authorizing his deputies to take various illegal steps against his political adversaries.
The aforementioned grand jury investigation was called Melendres v. Arpaio and was a lawsuit that involved several accounts of Latino rights violations on the part of Arpaio. Arpaio went too far when he arrested the reporting Lacey and Larkin. This was a clear violation of the constitutions’ second amendment and garnered national attention. As a result, the two men ended up winning $3.75 million in a settlement deal. They used the money to found Frontera Fund, which fights for the rights of migrants and immigrants. Amazingly, however, Arpaio was able to retain his position as sheriff until last year when voters did not vote him in. Not long afterward, he was charged by a judge for contempt concerning the earlier 2008 grand jury investigation, Melendres v. Arpaio trials.