During the night of October 18, 2007 Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey were arrested under the charges of disclosing details about a grand-jury investigation by the Maricopa County Selective Enforcement Unit run by the aggressive Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Read more: Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey Make The List of Civil Rights Protectors | Philly Purge
Earlier that day Larkin and Lacey, the CEO and executive director of Village Voice Media, published an article in the Phoenix New Times highlighting the attempt of the grand jury to subpoena personal information on the personnel at the Phoenix New Times. The publication had recently been publishing information on the abuses of power of Sheriff Arpaio including racial profiling and mistreatment of inmates, particularly targeting the Latino community.
Previously, unconstitutional actions of Arpaio were not addressed publicly, however the Sheriff was notified which of his actions were legal and which were not. Larkin and Lacey noticed the public outcry against Arpaio’s actions and decided they needed to take action through their publications.
Newspapers had not previously covered the actions of Arpaio although his behaviors were well known. The arrest of Larkin and Lacey sparked outrage as the argument for illegal detention spread.
Reporters began to publicize articles based on Larkin and Lacey’s writings furthering the exposure of corruption, which ultimately helped lead to national attention on the issue. The two were released from prison and filed a lawsuit against Arpaio to exposing his corruption which was ultimately settled for $3.7 million.
Following the settlement, Arpaio was not re-elected in as Sheriff. However, police officers that worked for him and his supporters continued to racially profile and spread anti-Latino rhetoric. Arpaio was vocal in his support for the Trump campaign in 2016 and has recently been pardoned by the Trump Administration.
In an effort to oppose anti-Latino rhetoric continuing from Arpaio and his supporters, Larkin and Lacey used the settlement money to start their organization called Frontera Fund. Their organization helps support members of the Latino community. There have been multiple other human rights organizations rise to oppose Arpaio.
In the end, the combination of the Arpaio pardon and the opposing human rights forces have created a climate where the future is unknown. With the increase in public knowledge of Arpaio’s corruption, there is hope that his rhetoric can finally be put to rest.