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A little more than 10 years ago, the Maricopa County Selective Enforcement Unit appeared at the doorway of two homes in Phoenix, Arizona, in the middle of the night. were they there to arrest drug dealers, perhaps gang members, or perhaps fugitives such as bank robbers? the answer they surprise you, they were there to arrest two members of the media.
Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey were arrested under the orders of the Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The two men worked for the Village Voice Media newspaper as executive editor and CEO respectively. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://frontpageconfidential.com/michael-lacey-jim-larkin-arpaio-frontera-fund-first-amendment/ and http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/about-lacey-larkin-frontera-fund/michael-lacey/
They were charged with disclosing details of a grand jury investigation and held for 24 hours before being released. Earlier on the day of their arrest, the Phoenix News Times, a publication operated by Village Voice Media, published an article discussing an investigation of a grand jury. What the two men were unaware of at the time was the same grand jury was investigating them.
Arpaio, the controversial Sheriff was becoming increasingly annoyed by the ever-expanding coverage of the extreme tactics of the Sheriff’s Department since he was elected in 1992.
Numerous publications had begun to take notice of the abusive treatment of women and inmates as well as his now infamous Tent City Jail. When these abuses were made public Arpaio was left with the unenviable task of trying to defend them. Read more: Village Voice Media | Wikipedia and Phoenix New Times | Wikipedia
US District Judge Murray Snow told the sheriff in 2011, that he was violating the constitutional law by detaining immigrants based on the suspicion that they may be in the US illegally. He advised Arpaio that the sheriff’s office needed evidence of an immigrant’s illegal status before they could be detained. This was not the first warning Arpaio had been given for this issue, he had previously been informed privately on numerous occasions.
A lawsuit was filed I against Arpaio and information about the abuses of the Sheriff’s Department under Arpaio began to surface. Charges were brought against him for the department’s abuses against immigrants, primarily Latinos.
This was when Lacey and Larkin began to focus on Arpaio, bringing the abuses of the sheriff’s office to light. Eventually, other newspapers and other media outlets began covering the sheriff’s office. This led to coverage by the national media.
Because of the increased scrutiny, Lacey and Larkin exposed the sheriff’s office to, they were targeted by a special team of prosecutors empaneled the grand jury that was reported on by the Phoenix News Times, which led to their arrest.
When the two men were released, they filed a lawsuit against Arpaio, which brought to light additional information about corruption and abuses by the department. Eventually, the lawsuit was settled for $3.7 million. Arpaio, who lost his bid for re-election was eventually charged with criminal contempt of court but was pardoned by current US President Trump.