Jim Larkin And Michael Lacey Discuss The Arpaio Saga

The history of the United States is filled with pardons being issued to controversial individuals. Read more: Phoenix New Times | Wikipedia and Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund

A recent pardon that has caused many in the country to express opposing opinions is the decision on the part of current U.S. President Donald Trump to issue a pardon to former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arkansas Joe Arpaio.

Sheriff Arpaio has been on record describing himself as the toughest sheriff in America and his many exploits are well-known to the American public. But one act on the part of Arpaio that many Americans are not aware of is the unlawful detainment of journalists Jim Larkin and Michael Lacy.

The Backstory

A little over a decade ago, agents working with the Selective Enforcement Unit of Maricopa County approached two Phoenix, Arizona home. The homes were the residences of Village Voice owners Michael Lacy and Jim Larkin who had been slated for arrests by Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Earlier that day, Village Voice Newspaper published an article detailing a grand jury probe that unbeknownst to the two journalists was charged with investigating them.

Arpaio was growing irritated with the heavy coverage given to his aggressive tactics at enforcing the law since taking office in 1992. In addition, Arpaio’s tent city, as well as his well-publicized stance against undocumented immigrants, received much criticism in previous Village Voice publications.

In 2011, District Judge for the United States Murray Snow ruled that the Arpaio practice of detaining immigrants who were suspected to be undocumented was unconstitutional. Arpaio ignored the rulings of Judge Snow and continued his instructions to employees to profile Hispanic individuals and detain them for immigration agents.

Larkin and Lacey wrote about these abuses on the part of Arpaio many times which eventually led to their arrests for releasing information pertaining to a grand jury. The two men were detained for 24 days and would file a lawsuit against Sheriff Arpaio and Maricopa County upon release. The suit was settled for $3.7 million.

Donald Trump To The Rescue

In July 2017, Arpaio was charged with contempt of court stemming from actions taken in response to a lawsuit filed against him.

Before this, Arpaio was denied an opportunity to be the sheriff of Maricopa County for a seventh consecutive term. Many feel that it was Arpaio’s skill as a politician that has gained him the support of the Trump administration.

Arpaio showed public support for the Trump campaign in its infancy and even before gaining the oval office Trump hinted that he would pardon the embattled sheriff if the opportunity presented itself. Read more: Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund and Village Voice Media | Wikipedia

And while many may debate the reason Trump did indeed pardon Arpaio, Michael Lacy is convinced that President Trump was making an appeal to the nationalist that make up a large part of his supporter base.

The Fallout

The Hispanic community in Maricopa County was under constant assault during Sheriff Arpaio’s time as sheriff of the county. Police officers in the county provided the action to go along with his unconstitutional instructions and his supporters defended his policies with nationalist rhetoric.

Human rights activists from throughout the country rallied in support of the Hispanic population in Maricopa County. Larkin and Lacey formed perhaps the largest of these groups, using the money they were awarded as a result of their lawsuit for unlawful detainment.

The Frontera Fund pushed back against Arpaio and his policies making it difficult for the former sheriff to accomplish his goals. The Fund fought even stronger against Arpaio after his 2017 conviction for contempt.

It is difficult to estimate what the pardon received from Trump will do for the future of Arpaio. But what is certain is that more people have been made aware of the former sheriff’s misdeeds and there are hopes that the movements that have been organized against Arpaio will end his agenda for good.