Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona has long been known as America’s toughest sheriff has once again proven that the rules of the system don’t apply to him. No longer the Sheriff after 24 years with the title, Arpaio was convicted of the federal felony of criminal contempt by a Federal Judge. President Trump has decided to pardon Arpaio with no jail time or other consequence.
Arpaio was the law in Maricopa County for many years. He was known for his strong arm tactics and racial profiling of Hispanics and Latinos. Arpaio is a staunch advocate for erasing illegal immigration by any means, even if it means violating civil or human rights.
When he lost his 7th bid for re-election, many thought it was a turning point in his getting away with corrupt police work.
One such act that reflected Arpaio’s disregard for the law was the case against Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey. These two successful businessmen have long been advocates for the Hispanic and Latino population in their state and beyond. Lacey and Larkin who own the media group, Village Voice Media publish a newspaper called the Phoenix Sun.
This publication has exposed the misdeeds of Sherrif Arpaio and his department for many years, which greatly annoyed the great sheriff. The paper printed statistics that proved racial profiling focused on Hispanics and Latinos. Read more: Jim Larkin | Crunchbase and Michael Lacey | Twitter
When the Phoenix Sun learned that a grand jury has been set up to target the paper, its editors, reporters, and subscribers, Lacey and Larkin decided to make it public. They knew this was a risk but they felt strongly that the first amendment rights were in jeopardy.
In response to exposing, Arpaio had his friends in the County Attorney Office to issue arrest warrants. Lacey and Larkin were both arrested at their homes on October 18th, 2007. Carried away in unmarked cars with Mexican plates, the two were booked and placed in jail.
Public outcry over the arrests was intense and the two men were released in less than a day. Thus began a long court case that Lacey and Larkin refused to give up on. They were finally completely exonerated by the 9th Court of Appeals in 2012 when the court ruled they had been unlawfully arrested and detained without any probable cause.
The pair were awarded $3.7 million dollars in an undeniable victory against the police system in Maricopa.
Many people would have been satisfied with this settlement and gone back to their lives as usual. Lacey and Larkin, however, decided to take most of the money and create the Frontera Fund.
This organization has been a powerful force in the protection of individual rights of minorities. Lacey and Larkin have vowed to continue their fight in defense of the first amendment and human rights.
President Trump pardoned Arpaio, in spite of the allegations and documented proof of his illegal ways. Arpaio has long been a supporter of Trump, dating back to the “Birther’ controversy regarding President Obama.
It seems his devotion has proven very helpful, but it is good to know that there are still men like Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey who defend those who can’t always defend themselves.