It’s something about corrupt law enforcers that makes them believe they’re invincible. When cops go bad, they go really bad. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is one of the worst crooked cops since the late 20s. In 2007, he became fed up with a certain news publication constantly writing about all his shady dealings.
That October, he sent his special “Selective Enforcement Unit” to the homes of Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, co-founders of Phoenix New Times.
Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were ripped from their homes in the middle of the night, shoved into unmarked SUVs with foreign license plates, and driven to separate jails.
As more details about their “arrest” came out, it seemed more like a cinematic kidnapping. The biggest shock is that everything was instigated by Sheriff Arpaio. He had no real evidence of any crime being committed, yet he used numerous grand jury subpoenas to do his bidding.
Phoenix New Times has several evidence-supported stories about Arpaio abusing his authority. While many Arizona believed Arpaio to be a benign character, New Times revealed his abuse of jail inmates, Mexican emigrants, and other actions involving racial profiling.
Arpaio’s most shocking act was getting a grand jury subpoena to force Lacey and Larkin to identify anyone who’d been reading their stories about him.
The charges filed against Lacey and Larkin accused them of not cooperating with law enforcement, which they weren’t. Arpaio wanted the names of anyone involved with New Times, including IP addresses; Lacey and Larkin refused. For that, they were jailed miles away from each other.
It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago; reporters were assaulted in such a way. Arpaio’s actions cost Maricopa County $3.75 million in a lawsuit filed by Lacey and Larkin. They donated all the money to migrant rights organizations. They also used some of the money to create their own free speech fund: the Lacey & Larkin Frontera Fund.
Michael Lacey’s father is was a construction worker. Lacey didn’t have high hopes for his own career but understood the value of education. While attending Arizona State University, he met Jim Larkin. The two immediately hit it off while writing a paper about the ultra-conservative media’s coverage of on-campus antiwar protests.
Unlike Lacey, Jim Larkin is an Arizona native. Though he and Lacey didn’t know each other that long, they dropped out together and started a business. It’s didn’t take long for them to find their rhythm.