It all started on the fateful day of October 18, in the year 2007, when both Jim Larkin and Mike Lacey were forcefully removed from their homes and taken into custody. Both of whom are respected media personalities at Village Voice Media were handcuffed and put into Mexican vehicles that had tinted panes. They were then taken to different cells that were managed by Joe Arpaio while at the police station.
Joe Arpaio was the man behind the arrest of both journalist, who was then known as “America’s Roughest Sheriff.” This is because he was not happy with some recent stories that had appeared in the Phoenix New Times Stories regarding himself and some of his undertakings. According to the paper, the sheriff was involved in mismanagement of funds in the county as well as other mischievous activities. Other accusations included poor maintenance in the jails, mistreatment of inmates which led to numerous death cases, racial discrimination, abuse of power, and illegal detention of people, especially those of Latin origin.
Interesting to note, after the revelation of the misdeeds conducted by Arpaio and his office, they further sought to get into their hand’s details regarding the Phoenix New Times writers, editors, as well as the readers. If that wasn’t enough, they further issued jury summons seeking the readers’ details, IP addresses, and browsing history. However, that did not get to both Larkin and Lacey as they continued exposing them. While at the cells, other inmates probed Lacey on the cause for his arrest and were surprised to find out that it was his writing.
The County residents were not happy with the arrest and sought for justice. Both writers did not remain the cells for more than 24 hours, and all their charges dropped. As a result of the wrongful arrest and detention, there was a long battle in court. The sheriff and the entire Maricopa County were accused of abuse of power and infringing human rights. According to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the two had been wrongfully arrested. The courts further revealed that there was clear and enough proof showing that the two writers have been assaulted based on the First Amendment.
At the same time, all the members of the grand jury serving in the case were not valid. This is because the prosecuting attorney had violated the legal procedures. Therefore, the writers were found to have been arrested without a cause. The courts further ordered the Maricopa County to pay a settlement amount of $3.7 million to the writers.
Larkin and Lacey decided to donate the settlement amount and start the Frontera Fund initiative. The initiative was meant to help the Hispanic community at large as they had been subjected to racial discrimination. According to Larkin, he learned from an early age to help the less fortunate. He further reveals that donating their compensation to the less fortunate was the best decision they ever made!