Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin are the co-founders of Phoenix New Times, a local newspaper, and Village Voice Media, a multimillion-dollar media conglomerate. Since the early 70s, the duo has challenged the ultra-conservative viewpoints of the Arizonan culture; in particular, its negative opinion about Latino migrants.
Nearly ten years ago, Lacey and Larkin stood against a local sheriff, who was hell-bent on erasing his name from their paper. What ensued was one of the most brutal attacks on the First Amendment in the last 20 years. The result of which ended with the duo being awarded a $3.75 million settlement.
The duo targeted Sheriff Arpaio unnatural behavior, making Arpaio very angry. The battle between the two sides lasted for a while until Arpaio completely crossed the line. His actions sparked national outrage; eventually leading to Lacey and Larkin establishing the Frontera Fund. Read more: Phoenix New Times | Wikipedia
The Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund supports groups that fight for civil, human, and migrant rights in Arizona. Sadly, Arizona has a bad reputation for mistreating Latinos; especially if they migrated to this country. The duo views their victory against Arpaio as a step toward a better future for all migrants.
The details about Lacey and Larkin’s arrest continued to spill out until the court case ended. As the country found out more, their arrest sounded more like a gang-related kidnapping. Both men were dragged from their homes in the middle of the night and forced into unmarked SUVs. Then they were taken to separate jails, where Arpaio tried to break them.
The last nail in Arpaio’s coffin was his attempt to force the duo into giving up their employees and readers. Arpaio used false subpoenas, signed by a crooked prosecutor, to confiscate all notes and materials concerning his activities that Phoenix New Times reported.
It’s understandable why Sheriff hated Lacey and Larkin so much. Their paper wrote several articles about how horrible of a sheriff Arpaio was. In fairness, he was a terrible sheriff. Not because he couldn’t do the job, but because he abused his power. He abused Latino countless times, even unconstitutionally detaining them. He was even responsible the mistreatment and deaths of some of his jail inmates.
Thankfully, Phoenix New Times didn’t ignore Arpaio like everyone else did. No one wanted to talk about the wrong things that Arpaio did on a regular basis until Lacey and Larkin stood against him.