Every human has certain rights that should not be violated. Not every nation acknowledges those rights, but the United States is a country that prides itself on protecting Freedom of Speech. Yet, everyone knows that there are people who violate those rights and get away with doing so.
For Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, free speech is more than being allowed to say whatever they want. Lacey and Larkin are newspaper reporters who’ve been battling ultra-conservative views for decades. Their battle started in the 70s when they wrote a paper about the local media’s coverage of antiwar protestors. Read more: Jim Larkin | LinkedIn and Jim Larkin | Angel.co
Since then, they’ve built a media conglomerate worth millions. They’ve told thousands of stories about corruption, inspiration, and art. Never did they think they’d be a story that needed to be told. Their story is an empowering tale, but it started out shady and frightening.
Nearly a decade ago, Lacey and Larkin began their battle with a shady sheriff named Joe Arpaio. Arpaio served as Maricopa County Sheriff for a while, earning himself a small reputation with the people. Most people thought Sheriff Arpaio was an unnoticeable character with a tough job.
Lacey and Larkin’s paper, Phoenix New Times, described Arpaio as abusive and racial discriminate.
Their battle reached its high point on October 18, 2007. Enraged by New Time’s persistence, Arpaio unleashed his “Selective Enforcement Unit” on Lacey and Larkin. Yes, it sounds as bad as it actually was. They arrested Lacey and Larkin in the most unconstitutional manner.
The two media executives were forced from their homes and pushed into unmarked SUVs. The SUVs were not Maricopa County vehicles. They were too dark and had Mexican license plates. Even more frightening, Lacey and Larkin were taken to different jails and booked for ridiculous crimes.
Once Arpaio had Lacey and Larkin separated, he tried breaking them. He not only wanted them to rot in jail; he wanted the names and personal information of their writers, editors, and even their readers. He tried to use grand jury subpoenas, signed by a vengeful prosecutor, to force them into talking.
When America found out what Arpaio was up to, Lacey and Larkin were immediately released. Their next move was filing a lawsuit against Maricopa County, which they won. The $3.75 million settlement was used to fund the Lacey & Larkin Frontera Fund.