Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were handcuffed and forcibly taken out of their homes during an October evening in 2007 by armed deputies that were sent by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Both of the men were working for the Phoenix New Times, and some of their stories about the abuses that had been carried out by Joe Arpaio angered him enough to have them placed into separate jails that were both managed by Sheriff Arpaio. The abuses in question had to do with the anti-Mexican climate of fear that Arpaio had been creating, and Larkin and Lacey reported the facts that the mainstream media was constantly ignoring. Their articles focused in on abuses of power by the sheriff, financial irregularities, and the horrendous conditions as well as abuses being committed on the inmates in Arpaio’s jails.
Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were arrested for the story they wrote that covered Arpaio had ignored the Constitution by leaning on his allies inside of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to issue grand jury subpoenas. These subpoenas sought information about the Phoenix New Times’ editors, writers, and readers, and it went as far as to get the IP addresses and personal browsing histories of the readers of the newspaper. Larkin and Lacey decided to write about the ridiculous subpoenas rather than give in to them.
Not only did the arrest of the two men put a national spotlight on the problems in the area, but people all over the nation aired their strong disapproval with Larkin and Lacey’s arrests.
Once they were released, a court battle ensued, and in 2013, the appellate court decided to award the two men with a $3.7 million settlement that Maricopa County would have to pay. Instead of keeping the money, Larkin and Lacey decided to startup the Frontera Fund, which is an initiative that works with pro-Latino groups who work to protect the rights of those who have faced civil rights abuses in the state of Arizona.
Jim Larkin has expressed his disbelief with the abuses and has also talked about how he was taught to treat everyone equally. Michael Lacey has pointed out how Sheriff Joe Arpaio has illegally detained and made monsters our of Mexican migrants and American citizens who just happen to have brown skin. Both men are now working to ensure that Latinos do not have to face similar abuses in the future.