Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey Take Down Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Journalists Jim and Michael had been reporting about the illegal, racist policies of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio long enough to get on his radar. They were trying to expose the anti-Latino activities of Arpaio’s department, publishing stories and what proof they could find in newspapers hoping to gain national attention. They weren’t getting it until Arpaio tried to stop them.
One story Larkin and Lacey published was about a secret Grand Jury they discovered that had been put together by Arpaio with dubious cause. The Grand Jury was convened without evidence to investigate the two in an attempt to find a reason to imprison them, thus silencing them. Larkin and Lacey didn’t know this when they exposed the Grand Jury in a story in the Phoenix New Times newspaper.
The story turned out to be what Arpaio thought he needed to arrest the two. He charged them with interfering with a Grand Jury investigation and ordered his deputies to arrest them on a warrant from the Grand Jury. Larkin and Lacey were put in jail on the night of October 18th, 2007. Placed in separate prisons and held for 24 days, the imprisonment of Larkin and Lacey caused a national outrage against Arpaio that the two had been trying to create. Read more: Larkin and Lacey Fruntera Fund | Crunchbase and Village Voice Media | Wikipedia
A judge reviewed the charges and the Grand Juries findings and dismissed all charges against them, ordered their release and nullified the Grand Jury. Larkin and Lacey sued Maricopa County and won $3.7 million in a settlement for false imprisonment. The two used the money for starting the Frontera Fund which is a civil rights advocacy group specializing in protecting the Latino community from violations of their 1st amendment rights. The Latino community was impacted the most by Arpaio and his sheriff’s department and Larkin and Lacey wanted to put the money toward helping repair some of that damage.
Arpaio lost his bid for a seventh term in 2016, ending 24 years of his policies in Maricopa County. He was found guilty of charges brought against him and was facing prison time until President Trump pardoned him. Arpaio had endorsed Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign and Trump may have been paying him back for that,
Larkin and Lacey continue as journalists, working to keep reminding people about the facts behind Arpaio’s time as sheriff and to counter his lies on the campaign trail.