Imagine being pulled out of your home by the dark of night and arrested by police even though you know you haven’t broken the law. Not being able to talk to anyone who will hear you out and getting shoved into the back of a police car. Learn more about Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/potmsearch/detail/submission/6427818/Michael_Lacey and http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/about-lacey-larkin-frontera-fund/michael-lacey/
This might sound like something that only happens in third world countries or dictatorships far away from the United States. But this not only happened to Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, it happened right in Phoenix under the nose of a man determined to make himself known as America’s Toughest Sheriff.
On October 18, 2007, the two men were arrested by plain clothes officers and sent to separate jails on orders from Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The newspaper founded by Larkin and Lacey, the Phenix New Times, had reported on all Arpaio’s shady dealings and illegal practices as sheriff, causing him to want them silenced and punished.
Ultimately, courts ruled that Arpaio was wrong for this and the county settled Larkin and Lacey’s lawsuit against him for over 3 million dollars. The two used this money to establish the Frontera fund to help Hispanics and Latinos defend their rights.
In his decades as Arizona sheriff, Arpaio came up with many ways to punish prisoners and other people in the community who he perceived as threats. In addition to feeding prisoners disgusting spoiled food, Arpaio made many of them live in tents in the Arizona summer.
Conditions in his Tent City jail were said to be inhumane, with summer temperatures over 100 degrees and little access to electricity. But the tactic that ultimately threatened to bring him down was instituting systemic racial profiling against Latino people. Read more: Jim Larkin | Crunchbase and Michael Lacey | Twitter
By instructing his officers to detain Latino people and demand to see their IDs, courts ultimately determined that he had violated the law again. They gave him sweeping reforms to put in place and a time frame to get them done. When Arpaio failed to meet the reforms in time, it seemed he would face time in the very jails he placed so many people in.
Everyone thought that Arpaio would end up in jail, but Larkin and Lacey saw him laying a foundation for a presidential pardon long ago.
Arpaio supported the candidacy of Donald Trump long before anyone thought it was possible for the businessman to become a legitimate politician. This resulted in a powerful ally in the White House for Arpaio, and a way out of serving any jail time.