The 2016 presidential race was one of the most followed events with pundits weighing in on what the future of America would be with the election of Donald Trump.
Perhaps a little less talked about was an election in Maricopa County, Arizona where longtime Sheriff Joe Arpaio was defeated after more than 20 years of holding his seat, and most Phoenix residents who favored national immigration reform were happy with his ouster.
However, there were several individuals including Frontera Fund founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey who had hoped Arpaio would be indicted for allegedly targeting immigrant communities with raids, and also for using his office to seize power. Read more: Jim Larkin | LinkedIn and Jim Larkin | Angel.co
But although a federal judge made a move to indict Arpaio, President Trump made it known the former sheriff would be pardoned. Larkin and Lacey both said this pardon is a highlight of a failure of justice.
Larkin and Lacey consider what they do to be a fight for justice both in journalism and in their activism and philanthropy which as of late has entailed giving citizenship rights to less privileged immigrants and expediting the immigration process.
They’ve been outspoken critics on President Trump’s border and wall plans and seek to bring people the truth of what’s been happening in Phoenix’s communities, and they’ve had many run-ins with Arpaio’s office in the past. Before they started the Frontera Fund, they managed an independent newspaper known as the Phoenix New Times.
Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey formed the base of the Phoenix New Times back in the early 1970s while they attended and later dropped out of college at Arizona State University. It was Lacey who arrived on the scene first and had acquired a love of reading newspapers and journals, and the first subject he was passionate about was the Vietnam War protests of the early 1970s.
Larkin came along later and while his personality was noticeably different than Lacey’s, he agreed with Lacey’s writing of the campus protest groups that they were really not having their stories told fairly by other news outlets.
The two men raised funds to start Village Voice Media which became the parent company to their conglomerate which in the aftermath of their protest stories started gaining traction. The New Times had branches at one time in other cities like Miami, Denver and Los Angeles and covered a wide variety of controversial issues. But it was around 2007 that their biggest story came to light.
Around 2004, a New Times reporter started getting suspicious about activities going on with then Sheriff Arpaio and started reporting them.
Subpoenas started getting sent out to gain access to Phoenix New Times material, and when Larkin and Lacey started writing about the sheriff’s actions in 2007, they were arrested. But locals started going after the sheriff’s department and the other local media started hammering them, and in the trial following the arrests of Larkin and Lacey, the judge acquitted them of all charges.
In the coming years they waged a legal battle against Arpaio and in 2013 they won a $3 million lawsuit which was used to start the Frontera Fund. Though Arpaio will not be indicted, Larkin and Lacey have devoted the fund’s resources to fighting policies like his.