On the afternoon of October 18, 2007, two Village Voice Media executives were strong-armed by Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s “Selective Enforcement Unit.”
These Maricopa County armed deputies, handcuffed and removed Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin from their Phoenix’s residence to unmarked SUVs with tinted glass.
After being thrust into the vehicles, they were whisked off to a jail managed by Arpaio, in which they were then booked and placed in separate cells.
Arpaio, the self-proclaimed, “Toughest Sheriff in America”, had prompted this whole operation. He had long been irate about articles written by Phoenix New Times, disclosing his wrongdoing.
While other newspapers had considered Joe Arpaio as a quirky and harmless character, Phoenix New Times reported how he was the catalyst in promoting anti-Mexican sentiments, while attempting to make political points as well.
They shared information including, how he was overstepping his power, the unsanitary conditions of the jails in which he was assigned. Abuse, strange circumstances in the deaths of inmates, as well as continual persecution, racial profiling and unlawful detainment of Latinos Arpaio ran rampant within his administration.
Lacey and Larkin were apparently taken into custody for writing a revealing lead story in the Phoenix New Times about Sheriff Joe’s friends at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, who had issued grand jury subpoenas. They wanted to know private details concerning the editors, writers, readers and went so far as to request the readers’ computer data.
Instead of giving in to the threat of being subpoenaed, Lacey and Larkin shared what they had experienced.
When the story was made public, the backlash from it resulted in Lacey and Larkin regaining their freedom within a day. All charges were dismissed.
A lengthy court battle was put in motion about First Amendment rights and the boundaries of people in power in connection to the confinement of the two executives.
In the year 2012, The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stated, it is hard to believe that officials would issue orders for immediate arrest of individuals who disagrees with them.
The court ruled Lacey and Larkin were arrested without probable cause and they received a 3.7 million dollar settlement. This would allow them to set up the Frontera Fund organization.
Frontera Fund is a program to help, for the most part, Latinos in Arizona facing racial hostility and an abuse of their civil rights. It also assists other groups that advocates and advance Hispanic causes.
According to Mike Lacey, Sheriff Joe Arpaio induced fear-mongering and hastily locked up individuals with brown skin, including American citizens.
Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin are making positive changes and standing with immigrants.