In 1970, Jim Larkin and Michael “Mike” Lacey founded an alternative print news publication that shared its own off-the-wall take on current events that took place in Phoenix, Arizona, called Village Voice Media.
Today, the Phoenix-based publication has since changed its name to the Phoenix New Times, though Village Voice Media is now a news media holding company that owns several print and digital publications, as well as magazines, across the United States. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/potmsearch/detail/submission/6427818/Michael_Lacey and http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/about-lacey-larkin-frontera-fund/michael-lacey/
Just short of 11 years ago, the Phoenix New Times reported a handful of serious allegations against the Sheriff of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Joe Arpaio.
The lengthy piece’s allegations were backed by facts, which included things as serious as Arpaio issuing orders to law enforcement officers under his jurisdiction to give his enemies a hard time, the substandard condition of jails throughout Maricopa County and inhumane treatment of inmates, wrongful circumstances surrounding the mistreatment and eventual death of multiple inmates, and evidence that indicated Sheriff Joe Arpaio was, in fact, discriminatory against Latinos in his dealings with such individuals.
After this piece was published, Arpaio ordered personnel under his command to forcefully enter the homes of Jim Larkin and Mike Lacey, arrest them, and throw them in jail. Here’s the thing – Lacey and Larkin didn’t break any laws. Further, even if they did illegally slander Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, they should not have been arrested in the manner that they were taken into custody. Read more: Lacey and Larkin Speak Out on Trump Pardon of Arpaio | Phoenix New Times and Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey Make The List of Civil Rights Protectors | Philly Purge
Accounts from Larkin and Lacey corroborate with documents from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department that a team of officers similar to a SWAT team had arrested the pair. The aforementioned unit was referred to as a “Selective Enforcement Unit.”
The Selective Enforcement Unit virtually always was ready to fire on alleged and convicted criminals alike; further, members of the Selective Enforcement Unit were and still are required to dress in full body armor and use assault weapons like pistol-gripped tactical shotguns and fully-automatic rifles typically used in war.
Shortly after Larkin and Lacey were released from jail, they joined forces with a team of high-powered lawyers to bring justice to their wrongful treatment under the direction and supervision of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
In the civil suit brought against Joe Arpaio, he was found guilty of countless crimes – quite literally an entire rap sheet of crimes nobody wants to be found guilty of committing – that ultimately resulted in the government of Maricopa County, Arizona, paying Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey roughly $3.7 million.
The suit sparked conversations and political action regarding the preservation of rights upheld by the First Amendment.