Sheriff Joe Arpaio had plenty of history with the New Times’ publication. Over the years he had banned its reporters from press conferences and even threatened to have them arrested. However, the run in that he would have with the publication in October of 2007 would not only rock the County of Maricopa but the entire nation.
Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin had gotten their start working on a University of Arizona campus paper. At the time, they were intent on airing their frustrations about the 1970 Kent State Killings. Though they would eventually drop out of the university, they would continue to work on the paper and it would grow by leaps and bounds–eventually becoming Village Voice Media which was comprised of 17 publications.
One of these publications was the Pheonix New Times. And they spent a lot of time covering the corruption of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He had earned the title of the toughest Sheriff in America. However, according to the New Times, he was more than just tough–he was sadistic.
He denied prisoners their medication and in at least one case, a diabetic woman died. He savagely beat prisoners who didn’t comply with his orders.
He created what he referred to as “Tent City,” a makeshift tent that was to house prisoners outside in 135-degree heat–the Sheriff’s answer to prison overcrowding. He forced inmates to wear pink underwear and eat molded balogna. Conditions had become so dire that inmates were committing suicide at alarming rates.
But perhaps what made things come to a boil was the Melendres v. Arpaio class action lawsuit. Citizens of Maricopa County claimed that the Sheriff was racially profiling Latino individuals–having them round up by his deputized citizens.
The case resulted in a $70 million dollar settlement. And though Arpaio was never charged for what the U.S. district judge called, “racial profiling on a massive scale,” he was charged with being in contempt of court after not following the judge’s orders.
Arpaio would have served time, but he was pardoned by Donald Trump. While many people may see this as a gracious act by Trump, Lacey and Larkin call it a move that benefited both parties.
They feel that Trump wanted to appeal to the types of voters who would support someone like Arpaio–namely nationalists. The CEO and executive editor also feel that Arpaio supported Trump’s nomination because he wanted to be pardoned by him. Read more: Jim Larkin | Crunchbase
It was this very same cunning that would cause an explosive run-in between the Sheriff and the New Times in October of 2007. John Dougherty, New Times’ investigative reporter had released an article that exposed Arpaio for the misappropriation of jail funds which included the Sheriff’s name and home address.
The Sheriff found the publishing of his personal information to be a felony and eventually worked to prosecute the reporter. When their day in court came, Lacey and Larkin released an article which admonished the Sheriff and discussed the details of the subpoena.
The Sheriff had the two arrested for revealing this information. However, their arrests became national news. There was an outcry from the public and they were freed and given a multi-million dollar settlement.
Larkin and Lacey sold Village Voice Media. However, they used their settlement to start the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund which offers grants to organizations who support migrant-rights. They also started a website, Front Page Confidential, which discusses free speech