Ten years ago, two Village Voice executives Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey ran afoul of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The self-described “America’s Toughest Sheriff” had an ax to grind with anyone who dared to question his authority, or heaven forbid, write a truthful story about him and his long list of misdeeds.
Arpaio, the 85-year-old former sheriff, served the people of Maricopa County for 24 years. During his tenure, he committed some of the worst law enforcement atrocities ever seen.
Arpaio’s disdain for the Hispanic community is widely known. Not only were there countless incidents of racial profiling and harassment, Arpaio even went as far as ignoring court orders from a judge that told him to stop racial profiling.
But what set Arpaio off was a story penned by Larkin and Lacey regarding a grand jury investigation.
Arpaio’s retaliation was swift. On the night of Oct. 7, 2007, he sent members of his Selective Enforcement Unit to the homes of Larkin and Lacey. The men were arrested, cuffed, tossed into unmarked, black SUVs with Mexican license plates and taken away.
After the story made national headlines, they were quickly released.
Over the decade, the Phoenix New Times had many stories about Arpaio’s illegal activities such as unexplained deaths at his prison, inmates being forced to wear pink underwear and live in 120 degree heat at his infamous tent city, pregnant inmates shackled while giving birth, and those are only the tip of the iceberg. Read more: Village Voice Media | Wikipedia and Michael Lacey | Twitter
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a scathing ruling against Arpaio and his blatant abuse of Larkin and Lacey’s First Amendment Rights.
After a five year battle, the men won a $3.75 million judgement against the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department. Instead of pocketing the money, the men used it to open the Frontera Fund.
This non-profit is used to promote the rights of Hispanic individuals and immigrants who have suffered the injustices of Maricopa County’s Public Enemy Number 1: Joe Arpaio.
Arpaio lost in his last reelection bid to Democrat Paul Penzone. Thankfully, voters came out in full force to end Arpaio’s reign of terror once and for all.
Arpaio was also charged with criminal contempt last fall stemming from his refusal to stop profiling Hispanic people.
At long last, people thought that Arpaio would be wearing pink underwear in his own jail. But all hopes were dashed when Trump issued him a pardon for his evil deeds.
In retrospect, Larkin and Lacey have their own opinions about what has transpired. Larkin remarked that although Arpaio was a terrible sheriff and terrible jailer, he was a great politician, in that he was able to ride off Trump’s coattails.
Lacey said that it is the former sheriff’s racist, brutal, cracker mentality that appealed enough to Trump and his ilk that allowed him to get pardoned.