On October 18, 2007, Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin faced the full wrath of armed deputies from Maricopa County, who arrested them deep into the night following the instructions of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The County Sheriff sent his “Selective Enforcement Unit”, the most feared unit across the state of Arizona to arrest the two co-founders of Phoenix New Times. Mike & Jim were forcibly ejected from their homes within the Phoenix area, carried by unmarked SUVs with Mexican registration number and dark tinted windows. They were taken to different jails under the control of Sheriff Arpaio.
Reason for the Arrest of Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin
The arrest of Jim and Mike, who are also the executives of Village Voice Media was carried out Arpaio. Arpaio is recognized as the ‘America’s Toughest Sheriff’, and for a long time has been targeting Phoenix New Times’ editors for exposing misdeeds under his leadership. Phoenix New Times had consistently reported the financial malpractice at the office of the sheriff, abuse of power by county officials against critics of the sheriff, poor health conditions in jails under control of Joe Arpaio, mistreatment of inmates on death row, illegal detention of Latinos, systematic persecution under Arpaio’s watch as well as racial profiling. There was a national demand for the release of Larkin and Lacey, and it happened less than 24 hours after their arrest.
The Launch of Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund
After the two reports were set free, they filed a legal suit against Maricopa County for initiating their illegal arrest. It was a long court battle that was concluded by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal in 2012. The court found that the county officials acted against the law by ordering the arrest of their critics, this time Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin. It also found that they were taken to custody without any meaningful reason. In 2013, the Appeal’s Court ordered Maricopa County to pay Lacey & Larkin $3.7 million as settlement for their illegal detention.
The settlement was used to launch Lacey & Larkin Frontera Fund, an initiative that supports organizations advocating for the rights of immigrants in the state of Arizona. The fund largely benefits Hispanic community that has experienced racial discrimination and other civil rights abuses in the state. Having been brought up in Arizona, Larkin understands the importance of helping the less fortunate members of the society the way he was taught early in his life. He further said that migrants from Mexico encounter unimaginable difficulties when traveling to seek greener pastures in Arizona and other states. Jim believes this group of individuals needs to be supported because of the hostile condition they encounter once they reach Arizona.