In October of 2007, Joe Arpaio made news when his “Selective Enforcement Unit” arrested Jim Larkin and Mike Lacy. The two men were forced from their homes and placed in unmarked SUVs. They were then booked into different jails managed by Arpaio, the Maricopa County Sheriff.
Apparently, the men, who are newspapers writers, were arrested because they wrote a story for the Phoenix New Times. The story was about Arpaio’s assault on the Constitution. Allies of Arpaio at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office issued subpoenas. They were seeking details about the newspaper’s readers, editors and writers. They wanted info about readers’ browsing histories, as well as IP addresses. Lacey and Larkin didn’t give into the subpoenas, so they wrote about it.
Lacey and Larkin didn’t spend much time in jail. In less than 24 hours, they were released but that was after their situation gained national attention. All charges against the men were dropped, too.
The incident kicked off a prolonged legal battle that centered around the First Amendment rights, as well as abuse of power. Eventually the pair won a multi-million dollar settled in 2013.
Lacy and Larkin used some of the settlement money for an initiative called the Frontera Fund. The fund is to mainly benefit the Hispanic community, who have been dealt with the brunt of civil rights abuses in the state of Arizona.
Larkin, who grew up in the state of Arizona, said he was taught to help those who are not as fortunate in life as he was. He mentioned that the Mexican immigrants who risk travelling through the desert to get to Arizona for work are deserving of help.
Politicians are both sides of the fence were campaigning for midterm elections in 2014 by taking a similar posturing to Arpaio’s views and policies. That is also when Larkin and Lacy started to distribute some of the dollars from their initiative. This was to benefit nonprofit groups that fight for Hispanic causes, as well as civil rights.
Lacey said Arpaio detained Mexican migrants and demonized them. He accused the sheriff of doing this to anyone with brown skin, which included American citizens. He added that he fostered a fear that gained momentum in the 2014 election.
Lacey finished his statement by saying the people of Arizona were better than that. He said that he and Larkin stood with migrants and that everyone were migrants.