The names Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin have become synonymous with fighting for civil and human rights. They’re not social movement leaders; they’re reporters. Since the late 70s, both men have been involved in writing about political topics. Their first paper together was Phoenix New Time’s inaugural issue.
Since meeting in college, the two have created one of the most respected media conglomerates in the country. Their expansion began in the 80s after they bought Westword, a Denver newspaper. Eventually, he welcomed 16 other like-minded papers from all over the country into their conglomerate.
Most people don’t live in areas of the country where corrupt law enforcement have such authority. Living in Arizona, where a lot of people have ultra-conservative views, it’s no surprise that Lacey and Larkin rub some people the wrong way. Regardless of how people feel about them, it’s no excuse for the actions of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
For years, Sheriff Arpaio was believed to be a simple man doing a tough job. Many people agreed with his attitude toward crime and illegal immigrants. On the surface, people see a hard-working sheriff trying to keep people safe. According to New Times, Sheriff Arpaio is an authoritative racist with too much power.
It’s an understatement to say that Lacey and Larkin got on the sheriff’s nerves with the stories they were writing about him. They were talking about his shady side-dealings, which lead to numerous financial irregularities. There were also numerous mentions of systematic persecution and racial profiling of Latinos.
Enraged by their expose into him, he decided to attack the paper and its executives. On October 18, 2007, he sent the Selective Enforcement Unit to arrest Lacey and Larkin. They were dragged from their homes, forced into unmarked SUVs, and taken to separate jails.
The public immediately found out that Lacey and Larkin were arrested in such a harsh manner. The public’s outcry for their release was swift and effective. Immediately following their release, they wrote a story about their time with the sheriff. They also sued Maricopa County.
Late 2013, they were awarded $3.75 million. They used the money to support local migrant rights groups and to establish the Lacey & Larkin Frontera Fund. Since their days dealing with the sheriff, everything’s calmed down and they even sold their company.
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