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Frontera Fund Fights


In his article “Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey Continue Fight for Latino Rights after Pardoning of Joe Arpaio” (Release Fact, Sept., 2017,) (1) U.K. journalist Brian Harris recounts the harrowing arrest and detention of Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, both executives for Village Voice media, publisher of the Phoenix New Times (PNT.) Larkin and Lacey were at the forefront of exposing the extensive violations of civil rights perpetrated by Sheriff Joe Arpio, six term Sheriff of Phoenix, Arizona’s Maricopa County. Learn more about Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin: http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/about-lacey-larkin-frontera-fund/michael-lacey/

Arpaio, a dogged opponent of illegal immigration, had been accused of instructing his officers to racially profile people who appeared to be of Hispanic or Latino descent, targeting them for unwarranted traffic stops, workplace and home raids. The Sheriff’s reported treatment of the (justly or unjustly) incarcerated was particularly brutal.

Suicide by hanging appears to have been rampant; medical treatment woefully inadequate; reports of physical abuse, prevalent. In an article Lacey wrote for the PNT, he states: “Lawsuits charge that the sheriff has cultivated a “culture of cruelty…””(2)

In 2007 Arpaio set his sights on two of his loudest detractors. Larkin and Lacey had tirelessly taken Arpaio to task, writing and publishing numerous articles in the PNT. Arpaio obtained a subpoena for information regarding the PNT’s writers, readers and editors. Rather than retreat from the Sheriff’s threats, the PNT published an expose of the intimidation. It is here that things took an astounding turn. Read more: Michael Lacey | Facebook and Michael Lacey | Twitter

As Harris recounts: “On October 18, 2007, armed deputies from Arpaio’s infamous Selective Enforcement Unit showed up at the Phoenix-area homes of Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey… The men were taken away in unmarked SUVs with Mexican license plates and booked into separate jails–both of which were managed by Sheriff Arpaio.”(3)

Public outcry was swift and strong, and the men were released shortly after their arrest. The legal battle addressing the egregious abuse of power, however, took years of seeking justice for their illegal detention and violation of their First Amendment Rights.

It was not until 2012 that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the men had been arrested without probable cause. They were awarded 3.7 million dollars from Maricopa County in 2013.

Larkin and Lacey have used the settlement to create the Frontera Fund, whose goal is to continue the fight against the abhorrent ideology Arpaio ingrained so deeply in Phoenix and beyond. The fund has supported nearly 30 organizations, from Arizona’s chapter of the ACLU to The Phoenix Immigrant Justice Project.

Their website includes numerous, valuable resources for immigrants of all type. To learn more about Frontera Funds goals and to lend support, visit: http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/category/resources/

Unnervingly, it seems justice will not be served to Arpio. A staunch supporter of Donald Trump, Arpaio was granted a Presidential Pardon by Trump regarding a conviction Arpaio received in 2017 for criminal contempt. Arpaio was found guilty of violating an injunction in 2013, that demanded he stop racially profiling Arizonans.

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