Sheriff Joe Arpaio is well known for his stance as the self-styled toughest law enforcement officer in the U.S. and his illegal profiling of Hispanic community members in Arizona’s Maricopa County. Journalists Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin fell foul of the Sheriff in 2007 when they refused an illegal warrant that threatened the First Amendment rights of the subscribers to the pairs Phoenix New Times newspaper. After facing down the Sheriff, who was recently pardoned by President Donald Trump, Lacey and Larkin set out on a lawsuit resulting in a $3.75 million payout for their illegal imprisonment for around 24 hours beginning on the night of October 18, 2007.
There are many reasons why Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin set out to uncover the truth about Sheriff Joe Arpaio, including his many cases of abuse of power ranging from the financial irregularities at the Sheriffs Department to the abuse of human rights the Sheriff regularly took part in. After revealing the financial irregularities found at Maricopa County’s Sheriffs Department to the readers of the Phoenix New Times, Lacey and Larkin were served a warrant from a Superior Court calling for information about readers of the Phoenix New Times to be revealed.
The warrant from the Superior Court was obtained illegally and was widely criticized as an attack on the human rights and First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Alongside taking the fight to the courts of Arizona, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin wrote about their decision to refuse the order and not reveal the IP addresses of their subscribers; the retribution from Sheriff Arpaio was swift and resulted in the arrest of both writers in night time raids on their homes in unmarked vehicles. Larkin and Lacey have described in detail the dark vehicles with tinted windows and Mexican license plates arriving to arrest them and explained how Michael Lacey explained his arrest was for “writing” to his fellow jail inmates.
Despite the best efforts of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were freed from incarceration within 24 hours and set about starting a lawsuit against those responsible for their imprisonment. Sheriff Arpaio has been proven to have targeted members of the Hispanic community and is known for starting much of the rhetoric now used to demonize an entire community in Maricopa and across the U.S.-Mexican border. The $3.75 million awarded to Larkin and Lacey is now being used to protect the human rights of Hispanic and minority groups across the Southwest as the rising right-wing in the Republican Party continues to blame the ills of the nation on immigrant groups.
Lacey and Larkin – The First Amendment on Front Page Confidential
Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin are have established the Frontera Fund to support the individual rights of migrants and immigrants in the State of Arizona. Before the Frontera Fund was organized, Lacey and Larkin were the owners of the Phoenix New Times. At that time, Joe Arpaio was the sheriff of Maricopa County and was known to be a tough lawman. The conflict between Joe Arpaio and Lacey and Larkin was caused by the constant exposure of Arpaio’s corruptions and abuse of authority by the New Times.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s atrocities included the construction of a tent city that has been known as his concentration camp, along with having hard-headed inmates beaten and feeding prisoners rotten food among a few. The New Times also exposed Joe Arpaio’s ownership of a real estate commercial property deemed too expensive for him to be able to acquire basing it on his salary as sheriff.
Unable to take all the incriminating allegations by Lacey and Larkin through the New Times, Joe Arpaio had the two men arrested illegally at night by using plainclothes detectives and unmarked police cars in October 2007. More than five years after their wrongful arrests, the Maricopa County resolved the case by awarding Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin a $3.75 million cash settlement in December 2013. Lacey and Larkin used the money to fund a non-profit organization, which is called Frontera Fund.
In continuing their news dissemination legacy, Lacey and Larkin created a website known as Front Page Confidential that features news, articles, and commentaries related to history that is relevant to the First Amendment. All the news items presented on the website of the Front Page Confidential conform to the First Amendment, which protects the freedom of speech or freedom of expression of every individual or group, including that of the press.