In August of 2017, President Donald Trump did something that received the praise of some of his most devoted supporters of his voter base while also causing rage among minority groups.
The president pardoned former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio who was facing criminal charges of ignoring a court order related to immigration and the case of two journalists.
Those journalists are Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, the founders of the Frontera Fund. Arpaio did a lot of things during his time as sheriff that earned him the recognition of America’s Toughest Lawman in some circles while also making him absolutely hated in others; but perhaps none were more controversial than the things he did to Larkin and Lacey that led to the Frontera Fund.
Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey’s journalism goes way back to even before the days Arpaio ran the Maricopa County Sheriff’s department. When they were both still young, they dropped out of college at Arizona State University because they were already publishing and selling their own newspaper, the New Times. Read more: Jim Larkin | Crunchbase and Michael Lacey | Facebook
What they wanted to do was to tell news stories from an inside perspective and not put spin on it the way most mainstream newspapers did at the time, and the main subject they covered at the outset was the Vietnam War and its protests.
But even after the war ended, Larkin and Lacey wanted to continue tackling tough issues so they invested even more into their publication and they eventually built Village Voice Media and had several editions spreading to cities like Miami and Denver and other corners of the nation.
Larkin and Lacey and their Village Voice Media company had a lot of major challenges over the years, but none like the night that the two men were dragged from their Phoenix homes and placed under arrest by Sheriff Arpaio.
They had been covering stories not only about how Arpaio would target Mexican-American communities and overreach in trying to round up illegal alien criminals, but there also was a case of what appeared to be corruption that they were covering in the New Times. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://frontpageconfidential.com/michael-lacey-jim-larkin-arpaio-frontera-fund-first-amendment/ and http://www.phillypurge.com/2017/06/23/jim-larkin-michael-lacey-make-the-list-of-civil-rights-protectors/
Arpaio decided to take matters into his own hands when he arrested the two men and tried to silence the paper.
But he didn’t count on the public and local media turning on him in the manner that they did, and even a judge that normally ruled in favor of Arpaio ruled this time that he didn’t have probable cause to arrest Larkin and Lacey.
So they decided to sue Arpaio later on and in 2013 were awarded $3 million in damages.
Larkin and Lacey decided to take the money awarded in the suit to build a foundation advocating for immigration reforms and for better informing the public about what really happens in immigrant communities.
They cited President Trump’s pardon of Arpaio as disappointing and showing that America’s justice system needs reforms, but they would look to continue to build partnerships with other immigrant civil rights groups.
Both men said this cause means a lot to them because they saw examples from their own parents on how showing compassion to those who are different always is better than alienating them.