On the evening of October 18, 2007, armed sheriffs, known as Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s frightening Selective Enforcement Unit from Maricopa County, strong-armed Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin and thrust them into unmarked black SUVs.
The two men that were taken from their Phoenix homes were Village Voice Media executives.
They were charged and placed into separate jails run by Arpaio.
The whole scheme was planed and implemented by Sherriff Arpaio.
The man who had proclaimed himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff, was angry about a story the Phoenix New Times had printed disclosing his improprieties. The newspaper described how he had promoted hatred for Mexicans and use politics to impress others and push his anti agenda.
When the mainstream media heard about Arpaio, they brushed it aside and felt he was just an eccentric character.
After this type of dismissal, Phoenix New Times then wrote about how Sherriff Arpaio was abusing his position in the area of finance and management, which were full of discrepancies. It was reported he would get revenge on his who criticized him.
The jails he controlled were not up to the proper standards. Mistreatment, poor living conditions, unconstitutional detainment of Latinos and even deaths, were common occurrences within his administration.
Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin were apparently taken into custody because Arpaio did not like the story they had written for the Phoenix New Times about how he committed an unbelievable attack on the Constitution.
His assault upon this fundamental law was shown in how his friends at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office issued summons searching for specific details about the browsing habits and IP addresses of the newspaper’s readers, writers and editors.
Instead of giving into the pressure the Attorney’s Office was forcing upon them, Lacey and Larkin wrote about what was happening. When inmates would ask why they were in jail, Larkin would answer, for writing.
A protest about the unfair situation lead to both of them being released within 24 hours and all the charges were dismissed.
The illegal lockup of Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin resulted in a long court battle about the First Amendments and their rights versus individuals abusing their power.
In 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the officials involved had directed a tremendous attack upon their critics.
Later on in 2013, Lacey and Larkin would receive a $3.7 million dollar settlement from Maricopa County.
Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin knew exactly what they would do with the money. They would reserved the money to fund the Frontera Fund, an organization that focuses on assisting Hispanics in Arizona, that have endured racial animosity and human rights abuse.