Sheriff Joe Arpaio was once the most feared and respected police officer in the U.S. for conservatives who were unwilling to look at his record of victimizing Mexican migrants to Arizona over what he described as an impressive arrest record. The record of Joe Arpaio led to an investigation by two of the most respected journalists and media executives in the U.S., Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin of Village Voice Media. The investigation into corruption and financial irregularities at Sheriff Arpaio’s Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department were followed by one of the most shocking incidents in the history of the U.S. media.
Village Voice Media executives, Jim Larkin and Michael lacey were taken from their homes in darkness on the evening of October 18th 2007 when they refused a Grand Jury Subpoena from Sheriff Arpaio’s Maricopa County to surrender personal information about the staff of the Phoenix New Times and its readership; in a clear attack on the First Amendment rights of the American public, the man who claimed to be “America’s toughest sheriff” called on members of Village Voice Media to provide the IP addresses of the readers of an article about the financial irregularities at Maricopa County’s Sheriff’s Department and a second article about the Grand Jury Subpoenas.
Of course, Larkin and Lacey both refused to provide the information requested by Sheriff Arpaio and his Maricopa County allies as they wished to protect the rights of their staff and readers. In a clear attack on the staff of the Phoenix New Times in response to the investigations into Sheriff Arpaio, the police officer sent unmarked SUV’s to the homes of Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin to arrest the pair without reason or cause.
The illegal detention of the two journalists spectacularly backfired for Sheriff Arpaio and provided the people of Arizona with the latest evidence of the illegal nature of the career of the sheriff. A national outcry from media outlets ensued and resulted in the release of Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin in under 24 hours and a Ninth Circuit Supreme Court decision going their way in 2012 with $3.7 million in damages used to start The Frontera Fund.
Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin are popular figures for their work to protect the rights of Mexican migrants and people from minority groups who were often victimized by Sheriff Arpaio across his time as the Sheriff of Maricopa County.