It’s barely over ten years since some heavily armed agents from the Selective Enforcement Unit of Maricopa County, Arizona, stormed the homes of Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey. The two were executives of Village Voice Media, the publisher of Phoenix New Times.
This attack followed strict orders from Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed “America’s Toughest Sheriff.” After storming their homes, the armed deputies hauled the two men and took them away in unmarked SUVs possessing Mexican license plates.
They were later imprisoned in two separate cells that were both managed by Arpaio, the Sheriff under the charges of unveiling discrete information about a grand jury that had been formed earlier by Arpaio. Read more: Michael Lacey | Crunchbase and Michael Lacey | Twitter
Their detention had followed increased publication and consistent coverage of the excessively aggressive tactics of law enforcement that had characterized the sheriff’s office. These backward tactics had defined the Sheriff’s department since his inauguration in 1992.
The coverage involved disclosure of Arpaio’s various orders against inmates and women especially if they were immigrants. These publications frustrated him and consequently ordered the arrest of Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, with an intention to mask them.
As a result of the detention of Larkin and Lacey, what followed was a huge outcry by the public who felt that the arrests were illegal. This led to an immediate release of the two men in less than a day.
After the release, they filed a case against Joe Arpaio for illegally detaining them. It was obvious that Arpaio and his team had violated their First Amendment rights. In 2012, after engaging in a long and delayed legal war, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals eventually ruled that the pair had been imprisoned without any clear cause.
Another scary concept that was noted in the scathing ruling was that Sheriff Arpaio and his team of deputies were “public officials commanding the illegal detention of their critics.”
This ruling saw Maricopa County pay $3.75 million to Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin as settlement for the suit. From this amount that the pair got from the lawsuit, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey decided to establish the Lacey and Larkin organization. This organization provides grants and funds to other organizations that fight for migrant rights in the whole of Arizona.
They have also developed the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund that works to support other non-profit organizations geared toward actively fighting for the rights of the Latinos and Hispanics, who has been gradually undermined during Arpaio’s tenure in Arizona.
As a result, regional and national human right organizations have begun to form to respond to the numerous oppressive cases building Arpaio’s legacy. The one run by Larkin and Lacey happens to be among the largest of these movements. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/5-smart-ways-people-and-places-are-resisting-trumps-immigration-policies/ and http://reporterexpert.com/sheriff-arpaios-2017-criminal-conviction-clash-michael-lacey-jim-larkin/
The indisputable efforts by these movements have suppressed Arpaio’s rhetoric against the Latinos and have also seen the sheriff charged with criminal contempt, misconduct that was supposed to see him punished with a maximum sentence of six months. However, this never happened as President Trump came to his rescue and pardoned him.
Nevertheless, despite the pardon of Arpaio by the president, people are already aware of the sheriff’s misdeeds, and with the continued establishment of more and more such movements, there is hope that his agenda will be permanently curbed.