Larkin and Lacey’s Freedom

Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin come from humble backgrounds. Michael Lacey’s father was a simple construction worker. He was the type of man who encouraged his son to aim for the stars, but always keep reality in mind. In the late 60s, Lacey moved from Newark, NJ to Phoenix, Arizona to attend college.

He didn’t last long in school before dropping out. After launching a weekly campus newspaper, he met up with Jim Larkin. Jim Larkin’s lived in Arizona his entire life, and he dropped out to join Lacey’s newspaper. Shortly thereafter, their small newspaper became one of the most renowned investigative papers in Phoenix.

Along with that notoriety came a few enemies. Reporters aren’t liked by the people they’re reporting on; especially when those people are doing something illegal. For most of Arizona, the media is ultra-conservative, so it ignores abuse and persecution toward Latinos. Read more: Jim Larkin | Crunchbase and Jim Larkin |

As avid supporters of the Latino community, Lacey and Larkin’s paper often clashed with “local heroes”. One of those so-called heroes was Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Most of the mainstream media wrote Arpaio off as a benign character. Phoenix New Times saw right through his good-sheriff act. New Times reported on all of the horrible things he did behind society’s back.

Arpaio named himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff”. The only problem with that self-proclaimed title was that he was only tough on Latinos; usually for no legal reason. New Times called him a patriarch of the anti-Mexican fear-mongering that took place in Phoenix at that time.

After several stories about his misdeeds hit the internet, Sheriff Arpaio decided to put an end to Lacey and Larkin’s newspaper. On October 18, 2007, he launched a full assault on their Constitutional rights. He had them unlawfully arrested and jailed. He then used grand jury subpoenas to force them to give up the personal information of their employees and readers.

Lacey and Larkin weren’t jailed for long. As soon as people found out they’d been arrested, national outcry demanded that they be freed. Upon their release, they wrote a detailed account of their interactions with the sheriff.

They also filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County. Not only did their paper reveal more details, during the trial, the courts discovered that he’d been using falsified grand jury subpoenas to violate people’s rights.