On an October day in 2017, inside an Arizona Courthouse, District Judge Susan Bolton reluctantly validated the presidential pardon of Joe Arpaio, formerly the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America.”
He had been convicted in July for contempt of court, by none other than Judge Bolton herself. He was to face a sentence of up to six months behind bars for his willful ignorance of federal orders. However, Arpaio had friends in high places and found himself with a full pardon, granted by President Donald Trump himself.
Arpaio Stands at Odds With the Press
The conviction of Arpaio seemed almost too good to be true for Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, the former co-owners of the Arizona paper, the Phoenix New Times. Ten years prior, they had been arrested by Arpaio’s goons, and they weren’t quick to forget that. Read more: Michael Lacey | Crunchbase and Jim Larkin | Crunchbase
Michael Lacey had a few choice words to say regarding Arpaio, recounting his many atrocities. His words on the pardon itself were quite curt. “This is the perfect marriage of two corrupt individuals,” he stated quite bluntly. Lacey then went on to speak of the long battle between his publication and Arpaio.
Arpaio Faces Constant Fire From the Phoenix New Times
The Phoenix New Times, run by co-owners Larkin and Lacey at the time, was a consistent wrench in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s plans. The two journalists covered Arpaio’s actions almost constantly, exposing scandals left and right as the sheriff struggled to hold back the public eye. Eventually tired of the media’s attention, he took his personal twisted form of justice into his own hands.
Arpaio’s responses to the constant attention from the Phoenix New Times were, at first, rather innocuous. He banned the paper from his press conferences, citing harassment. Learn more about James Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://james-larkin.com/press/ and http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/new-times-founders-helping-fund-latino-program-at-asu-journalism-school-6661821
Eventually, he even began to ignore their requests for county records, or at the very least, delay the requests until long after the records were necessary. However, it all came to a head in October of 2007, when Arpaio arrested Larkin and Lacey.
October 18, 2007
It was on that October night that Arpaio would finally make his move. He sent his men to arrest the pair, hauling them away in unmarked vehicles adorned with Mexican plates, before throwing them into Arpaio’s infamously brutal jails.
Fortunately for Larkin and Lacey, the public eye was trained on Arpaio, and they wouldn’t let this outrageous transgression go unpunished. The media response was swift and uncompromising, with Arpaio being brutally slammed by publications on every side of the political spectrum.
This unyielding media storm forced the hand of Andrew Thomas, one of Arpaio’s closest allies. He announced, officially, that the arrests were improper, the case would be closed, and the two journalists would be set free, less than 24 hours after their initial arrest.
Larkin and Lacey sued, settling for $3.75 million after years of legal battling. Using this settlement, they created the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund, dedicating the organization to the defense of migrant rights. A cruel twist of fate that Arpaio’s blunder would lead directly to the creation of an organization to oppose his atrocities against Latinos.