Armed deputies from the “Selective Enforcement Unit” of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio arrested Jim Larkin and Mike Lacey on October 18th, 2007 during the evening-time. They were both removed by force from their homes in the Phoenix, Arizona area and pushed into SUVs that were not marked and had tinted windows that were very dark along with license plates from Mexico. Later on Jim and Mike, who both work for The Village Voice, found themselves in different jails from each other, and it was no surprise that these jails were managed by Joe Arpaio.
Arpaio, who calls himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff” is the man who pushed to have them both arrested, because of his anger at the Phoenix New Times negative portrayal of him. It was Arpaio’s anti-Mexican paranoid attitude and politics in Arizona that caused them to cover his story after conventional newspapers ignored it. The strange financial irregularities and misuse of power demonstrated by the Sheriff’s office was reported by the Phoenix New Times as well as his poor treatment of jail inmates. Arpaio’s unconstitutional treatment of Latinos was also brought to light by The Times.
The story that Larkin and Lacey wrote that got them jailed showed how Arpaio broke ties with the constitution and and had the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office hand out grand jury subpoenas looking for the Phoenix Times writers and editors as well as the personal IP addresses and browsing histories of its readers. Larkin and Lacey did not give in, but instead wrote about the incident. Larkin and Lacey were released from jail within 24 hours with all charges dropped due to a large national outpouring of negative attention. Afterwards, a long battle in court occurred over their illegal detention as well as the abuse of power demonstrated by Arpaio’s office. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in 2012, commented and agreed that Sheriff Arpaio’s actions were a direct affront to the First Amendment and also recognized that the grand jury subpoenas served by the Sheriff were invalid meaning that the arrests of Larkin and Lacey were without probable cause at all.
Instead of keeping the settlement money all to themselves, both Larkin and Lacey decided to give it to the Frontera Fund, which is in place to aid the Hispanic Community that has been the target of so many racial and civil rights abuses. They plan on continuing to help the Latino community going into the future.