Sheriff Joe Arpaio Takes On The 1st Amendment And Loses

There are few fundamental rights in America more sacrosanct than freedom of the press as defined by the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. But it all meant nothing to one power-mad sheriff in Arizona’s Maricopa County.

It was in October of 2007 that Sheriff Joe Arpaio ordered the arrest of two media men because he didn’t like the stories they were publishing in their Phoenix-based newspaper, the Phoenix New Times. Read more: Larkin and Lacey Fruntera Fund | Crunchbase and Michael Lacey | Crunchbase

The two owners of the paper, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, were accosted in the middle of the night by an elite squad of Sheriff Arpaio’s plainclothes officers. The two men were dragged from their homes and deposited in jail.

Larkin and Lacey were owners of Village Voice Media, a chain of alternative weekly newspapers with a history of speaking truth to power. The group covered stories the big players within the mainstream media tended to ignore.

Sheriff Arpaio had a long history of bending the rules and pushing the limits of his powers as the head of a county law enforcement department. His brutal police tactics against the most vulnerable people of Arizona — migrant workers and undocumented immigrants — earned him the reputation as “America Toughest Sheriff.”

Arpaio was living proof that a platform of race baiting and persecution of minority groups is still tolerated and even popular in certan segments of America.

But when Arpaio meddled with Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, he met his match. The two media men were released just a few weeks after their detainment with all charges dropped. It was an open-and-shut case — in the obvious fact that there was no legal case to begin with.

Larkin and Lacey sued Maricopa County for false arrest and violation of their basic Constitutional rights. An appeals court awarded them $3.7 million in damages. Rather than just taking their windfall and enjoying the lifestyles of the rich and famous, Larkin and Lacey plunged the money into a new charity foundation.

The Larkin and Lacey Frontera Fund was established to provide aid, comfort and support to the very groups that had been the target of Sheriff Arpaio’s gestapo-like police tactics — undocumented workers and people of Hispanic-Latino heritage. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: and

Joe Arpaio would have further problems with the rule of law a decade after the Larkin and Lacey debacle. He was convicted of criminal contempt of court for his policy of racially profiling minority groups. He was spared a stint in jail only by way of a pardon courtesy of his political soulmate, President Donald Trump.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.