Larkin and Lacey: The Power of the Press

Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey were on a mission to expose Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his departments misconduct to the nation. Read more: Lacey and Larkin Speak Out on Trump Pardon of Arpaio | Phoenix New Times and Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey Make The List of Civil Rights Protectors | Philly Purge

The two journalists lived in Arizona and saw what Arpaio was doing to their state, They didn’t like his racial profiling, his record of illegal searches and arrests, his treatment of prisoners in custody or the way his department harassed anyone who even looked Latino.

Using their co-owned media company Village Voice, they tried to expose the actions of the sheriffs department. Arpaio didn’t like this and decided to something about it. Something illegal.

Larkin and Lacey weren’t getting the national attention they wanted on Arpaio but they kept at it, publishing story after story about what was happening. One of their stories involved a secretive Grand Jury convened without sufficient cause.

Larkin and Lacey couldn’t uncover what the Grand Jury was formed to do, but they had enough to run a story exposing it and did so in one of their newspaper outlets, the New Phoenix Times.

Arpaio decided that was enough. Charging Larkin and Lacey with obstruction of an investigation, he ordered them picked up in October of 2007. The two were imprisoned, separately, for 24 days. This incarceration for exercising freedom of the press finally brought the national attention to Maricopa County that Larkin and Lacey wanted but Arpaio didn’t.

A national outcry against their incarceration and trial rose up and the reporting Larkin and Lacey had done in the past got new attention. Arpaio and his sheriff’s office activities became common knowledge.

After the 24 day confinement a judge finished reviewing the case and ordered the charges against Larkin and Lacey dismissed and the two released. The Grand Jury, which was investigating them to begin with, was found to have been assembled without sufficient cause and disbanded. Larkin and Lacey sued the county for $3.7 million. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey:

Using this money to start the Frontera Fund, Larkin and Lacey hope the civil rights group which focuses on first amendment violation can help repair some of the damage done to the Latino community by Arpaio’s department.

Arpaio has since lost re-election for sheriff and is running for the Senate after he was found guilty of some of the charges levied against him and then being pardoned by President Trump, who enjoys mutual support with Arpaio. Larkin and Lacey continue to report on Arpaio today.

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