If you’re unfamiliar with the court case involving the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office and newspaper executives Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, it is a case that helped unearth many instances of racial profiling in the predominantly Latino County, located in Arizona.
According to several news articles, on October 18, 2007, both Larkin and Lacey were illegally detained at the behest of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who reportedly instructed the county’s Selective Enforcement Unit to take Larkin and Lacey into custody.
The detainment was in retaliation for an article that appeared in the Phoenix New Times, a local paper that is published by the Village Voice Media, which is executively produced by both Larkin and Lacey.
The newspaper article detailed how the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office targeted, and in many cases, violated the rights of Latino drivers, even after a preliminary injunction by the U.S. district court ordered them to stop.
In spite of the 2011 preliminary injunction handed down by Judge G. Murray Snow, the Sheriff’s office continued their practice of profiling Latino drivers, claiming that the terms of the injunction were unclear. In light of the blatant disregard for the judge’s orders, an official ruling was handed down in May 2013 citing Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and the Maricopa County Sheriff office, with willfully engaging in racial profiling.
In the end, Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt, with the Phoenix New Times article playing a pivotal role in the conviction. The article reportedly described actions that were tantamount to political posturing and anti-Mexican fear mongering within the sheriff’s office.
Maricopa County was ultimately ordered to pay a $3.7 million settlement to Larkin and Lacey, based on the illegal detainment and violation of their first amendment rights. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: https://about.me/michael-lacey and http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/about-lacey-larkin-frontera-fund/jim-larkin/
The settlement money that Larkin and Lacey received was put towards the Frontera Fund, an organization predicated on supporting migrant rights in the state of Arizona. Additionally, the Frontera Fund is an advocate of civil and human rights, as well as freedom of speech and civic participation.
In addition to providing local support to varying causes in Arizona, the Frontera Fund is renowned for helping to provide funding to similarly focused organizations like the ACLU and the advocacy group “No More Deaths.” If you’re unfamiliar with these organizations, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) was founded in 1920 and works to protect the rights of all citizens. “No More Deaths,” founded in 2004, is an advocacy group that has made it their mission to put an end to migrant deaths that occur on the United States/Mexico border.
Regardless of ethnicity, everyone has certain inalienable rights; these very rights, which are protected by the U.S. Government, cannot be marginalized based on someone’s race or ethnicity, and this is precisely what the Maricopa Sheriff’s Office was doing.
Fortunately, the laws that were designed to protect the rights of all people helped put an end to the sheriff’s Office misconduct. At the same time, the settlement and the conviction of Joe Arpaio will remind others in local law enforcement that no one is above the law.