Lacey and Larkin Take On “America’s Toughest Sheriff”

Arizona gets a bad reputation. While most like to believe that Arizona is a nice place, the stories that come out of the area paint a different picture. The story of Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin versus Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is one of those negative stories.

Fortunately, the story has a happy ending, which shines a good light on the state. In short, Sheriff Arpaio being obsessed with destroying Lacey and Larkin’s newspaper, leading him to commit acts that were reprehensible. Following their arrests, the duo filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County and won a $3.75 million settlement.

Rather than keep the money for themselves, they used the money to start a charitable fund that supports local groups fighting for civil, human, and migrant rights. The Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund also supports local freedom of speech and civic participation organizations. Read more: Michael Lacey | Crunchbase

Both men served as reporters for Phoenix New Times, a company they co-founded. They know that there are people who try to violate others’ First Amendment rights. They’re both avid advocates of freedom of speech. Their lawsuit against Maricopa County wasn’t about getting back at Sheriff Arpaio. It was about taking a stand for something.

“America’s Toughest Sheriff”, as Arpaio referred to himself, blatantly attacked the duo and their newspaper numerous times. He tried stripping away their rights and confiscating their notes. He even wanted the names of their readers who might have read their articles about him. As disgusting as that was, their orchestrated arrests made the nation angry.

Their arrest was bizarre and frightening to hear about. In the middle of the night, the duo was forced into unmarked SUVs. There were no sheriff’s county vehicles presence; just the unmarked SUVs. The deputies that arrested them were heavily armed. Read more: Jim Larkin | Crunchbase

It was apparent that Sheriff Arpaio had a personal vendetta against Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin. For months, their paper wrote numerous articles detailing the sheriff’s irregular behavior, particularly, his finances. They also wrote about his repeated abuse of local Latinos and jail inmates. Most residents in the area wrote Arpaio off as a benign character.

Lacey and Larkin did everything in their power to show everyone who Sheriff Arpaio really was. For that, they were arrested, brutally interrogated, and unconstitutionally jailed in jails that Arpaio managed.