The article, “The Enduring Sins of Joe Arpaio: Newspapermen Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin Speak Out in Response to Donald Trump’s Pardon of America’s Worst Sheriff” by Stephen Lemons discusses a truth that many Americans are still reeling from, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been pardoned for his blatant violation of sanctions imposed by the Melendres V. Arpaio. This 2007 lawsuit was filed as a result of rampant racial profiling promoted throughout the department in an effort to increase deportation.
Individuals were being stopped illegally based on nothing more than their appearance and harassed. In addition to the 70 million awarded in damages, the court also appointed a monitor and called for an overhaul of practices. Arpaio was found to not be in compliance with this order and was charged with contempt of court.
After he was sentenced, President Donald Trump stepped in and issued a pardon for the former sheriff to the outrage of many individuals. Throughout his tenure with the Maricopa County Police Department, Arpaio had cultivated a very harsh reputation.
Instead of being known as “America’s toughest sheriff”, his original goal, he became known as a corrupt tyrant. His famous tent city solution to overcrowding earned him a national reputation, as inmates were exposed to poor living conditions and there was even a reported spike in suicide rates compared to other counties.
Phoenix New Times creators Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were not afraid to report on Arpaio’s exploits. Their tenacity soon drew the ire of the department and they found their requests for information slowed and their reporters banned from press conferences.
In one such instance of reporting, Lacey and Larkin’s paper was taking a hard look into Arpaio’s land holdings. It became apparent that Arpaio owned a slice of land valued at over 700,000 thousand dollars with a salary of only 78,000 thousand a year. Read more: Jim Larkin | Crunchbase and Jim Larkin | Angel.co
It felt very weird that Arpaio was able to afford the slice of land so readily and throughout the course of publication, Arpaio’s, well-known, address was published on the Phoenix New Times’ website. This resulted in a broad subpoena being delivered to Larkin and Lacey which they quickly shared with their readers. To Arpaio, this was the last straw and he ordered his deputies to arrest the media titans in their homes on October 18th, 2007.
The public quickly criticized his actions and the county attorney had no choice but the release Larkin and Lacey soon after their arrest. The outrage quickly mounted, and the two men sued the Maricopa County Police Department. This resulted in a settlement of 3.75 million dollars.
Larkin and Lacey had always been a champion for their readers, so when they received this settlement they knew exactly who should benefit from it, the subject members of the Melendres V. Arpaio case.
Today through the Frontera fund set up by Larkin and Lacey, members of Arizona’s migrant population benefit from well-funded programs that support them in obtaining legal assistance, deportation aid, and even job training. Truly the Frontera fund is a bright spot, after the low blow that is the pardon of Joe Arpaio.