With every passing day, it seems like there is another attack on our civil rights. Many feel our civil rights are in more jeopardy not than in any time in modern history. The good news for all of us is there are organizations throughout the country dedicated to protecting our civil liberties.
These groups can be rather small, sometimes regional organizations or as significant and well recognized as the American Civil Liberties Union. For example, the (ACLU) has offices in every region of the country. While the (ACLU) gets most of the press, many smaller groups are just as dedicated to protecting human rights. One such group founded by Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin is the Larkin & Lacey Frontera Fund based in Phoenix, Arizona.
The events that led to the founding of the Larkin & Lacey Frontera Fund are ironic. The saga began on the night of October 18, 2007, in Phoenix, Arizona. Two executives from the local media outlet, Village Voice Media, were arrested by deputies from Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office. Learn more about Michael Lacey: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/immigration/2014/12/16/proceeds-arpaio-suit-fund-asu-journalism-chair/20480479/ and http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/
The unwarranted arrest of Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey was a travesty in itself, but the details of this raid by a particular unit of Sheriff Arpaio’s office is even more troubling, to say the least. The two were arrested late at night, forced into unmarked SUVs with Mexican license plates and booked into separate jails.
Many newspapers had dismissed Arpaio’s sometimes bizarre behavior as offbeat but harmless. The Phoenix New Times took a much different view. The New Times reported his behavior much differently. Exposing his anti-Mexican fear-mongering, political posturing, rampant mismanagement, financial irregularities, the adverse health conditions in his jails, unconstitutional detention of Latinos and even the death of inmates.
Arpaio was outraged by this reporting and when Lacey and Larkin wrote an article revealing the sheriff and his allies had issued grand jury subpoenas asking for information about the newspaper’s readers, editors, and writers Arpaio had them arrested.
Michael and Jim decided to defend their First Amendment rights and sued the county for unlawful arrest and detention. The court fight took several years, but in the end, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit awarded the two journalists a settlement of $3.75 million.
The pair pledged to donate the compensation to the fight for civil, human and migrant rights and founded the Larkin & Lacey Frontera Fund, ironic indeed.