Many of the longtime opponents of Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County Sheriff would have thought that his time had finally come when he was convicted of criminal contempt in July 2017. The self-acclaimed “America’s Toughest Sheriff” served as country sheriff for over 2 decades. He would have continued even till this very moment if he had won reelection on his seventh bid. Read more: Michael Lacey | Crunchbase and Village Voice Media | Wikipedia
Since he had been in office, Joe Arpaio had been a controversial figure both in Arizona and beyond. On October 18, 2007, the Sheriff ordered Maricopa County Selective Enforcement Unit agents to raid the homes of Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin who were both involved in the Village Voice Media newspaper. These men were hauled from their homes and imprisoned that same day.
More often than not, various publications have brought up reports on the various orders of Arpaio against inmates and women (particularly immigrants).
Since his inauguration into office in 1992, the sheriff had been frustrated by the rising coverage of his extremely aggressive law enforcement strategy. Before 2011, he had been told several times that it was against constitutional law to detain immigrants on the basis of suspicion.
Most charges against the Sheriff came to limelight about a decade ago when a lawsuit was filed against him. The suit exposed the conditions faced by inmates in his infamous Tent City. It was on this basis that the court deemed it fit to charge Mr. Arpaio for violating the rights of immigrants particularly Latinos.
But the sheriff feigned deaf ears to these charges and went ahead with his unconstitutional acts of racial profiling and further exchange to immigration services.
This practice went on for years until it drew the attention of reporters, thanks to a strong reaction from those opposed to his abuse of power. Before now, many newspapers were not covering Mr. Arpaio as it wasn’t something out of the ordinary to them. However, things changed with the consistent release of these stories by Lacey and Larkin.
The scandal became more magnified when several newspapers became interested in the original works of these men and began releasing article and information on the Sheriff. The story soon gained national coverage.
Not long after that, something incredible happened. The home of Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey were raided by some armed deputies and both men were arrested at the order of Sheriff Arpaio. The pair worked with the Phoenix New Times and they were executives with Village Voice Media.
No doubt, Arpaio and his team violated their First Amendment rights by detaining them illegally. Soon there was a strong and immediate outcry regarding their arrests which led to their release within 24 hours.
Larkin and Lacey did not only expose more information about Arpaio’s malpractices and corruption but also went ahead to file a suit against him.
In 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that both men were arrested without probable cause and ordered the immediate arrest of the Sherriff. After a long, protracted legal battle, the suit was settled for $3.7 million which was used to form the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund.
However, Sheriff Joe Arpaio never went to prison as he was given a presidential pardon by Donald Trump himself.
Learn more about Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin: