Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey were tired of the behavior of the sheriff’s department of Maricopa County, Arizona. The two residents were given a front-row seat to the rampant abuses of power and blatant racism of sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies. Stories of racial profiling, illegal search and seizure, illegal arrests and violations of the civil and even human rights of those in sheriff’s custody were everywhere. And Larkin and Lacey heard them all in their roles as co-owners of the media outlet Village Voice. Read more: Lacey and Larkin Speak Out on Trump Pardon of Arpaio | Phoenix New Times and Jim Larkin | Crunchbase
So Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey used their best weapon to try and fight against these practices: They published news stories about it, recounting eyewitness reports and presenting what evidence they could uncover for the public to see.
It was Larkin and Lacey’s hope that these stories would get enough attention on the national level to force someone to do something about Arpaio. At first, they were experiencing limited success.
One person who did pay attention to the stories was sheriff Joe Arpaio. He wanted Larkin and Lacey silenced, which he thought would end the media scrutiny on him. It seems as if he was intent on arresting them, as he formed a Grand Jury in secret to investigate the two journalists, even though he had no evidence or even reasonable suspicion of any wrongdoing on their parts.
Larkin and Lacey uncovered the Grand Jury while reporting on Arpaio, though they did not discover that they themselves were its targets. They ran a story on the Grand Jury, adding it to the pile of Arpaio stories they published.
Arpaio saw his chance to pounce. Charging the two with obstructing said Grand Jury, Arpaio had Larkin and Lacey arrested on October 18th of 2007. Though he thought he had the two, Arpaio had just set the scene for his own downfall.
As Larkin and Lacey spent 24 days in Arpaio’s prisons, the nation began paying attention to his activities, both current and past. When Larkin and Lacey were set free when a judge declared the charges against them void, Arpaio was a household name and a face for discrimination against Latinos.
As Larkin and Lacey out their settlement money from the wrongful arrest to use in the form of the first amendment charity Frontera Fund, Arpaio has gone from sheriff to accused criminal to convicted criminal, but his sentence was overturned by President Donald Trump.