Fighting Against Oppression

The media is supposed to report facts, not their personal feelings and opinions. Sadly, that’s not always the case. Fortunately, there are those that commit themselves to a high standard of professional etiquette. Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin are two such men. They are the co-founders of Phoenix New Times and Village Voice Media.

They got their start in reporting in the early 70s. Lacey moved to Arizona to attend Arizona State University, where he met Larkin. During the 70s, they noticed the way that the ultra-conservative media portrayed local college antiwar protests. Lacey and some friends wrote a paper about the real issues, which later became the first paper published by Phoenix New Times.

Since then, Phoenix New Times has taken on numerous unjust activities. Most notably were the acts of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. What began as a New Times story turned into a constitutional battle and ended in a $3.75 million settlement.

After all the strife, Lacey and Larkin found a way to overcome their trauma and do something good for their community. They created the Frontera Fund, a fund that supports organizations that advocate for human rights and freedom of speech in Arizona and along the Mexican border.

While the fund is an inspirational wonder, their story is a more inspirational wonder. It’s always difficult to take on corruption, especially in law enforcement, but Lacey and Larkin never let that fear stop them. When they discovered Sheriff Arpaio’s dirty activities, they reported the truth.

That simple righteous act upset Sheriff Arpaio in the worst of ways. He became hell-bent on destroying Phoenix New Times and taking Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin down. He tried many harassment methods to get them to stop publishing stories, but he eventually resorted to desperate and illegal methods. Read more: Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund

There’s no excuse for Arpaio’s actions beyond a certain point. He got caught red-handed doing many things he wasn’t supposed to be doing; namely, his outrageous assault on the Constitution. He violated the First Amendment in every way imaginable just because Phoenix New Times and its executives refused to let him get away with his reprehensible acts.

Fed up with their storytelling, Arpaio sent the feared “Selective Enforcement Unit”. Yes, that unit’s actions are as controversial as their name suggests. They arrested Lacey and Larkin in the middle of the night and forced them into unmarked SUVs. The deputies then took Lacey and Larkin to separate jails miles away from each other.