Classic Country Theatre

Suing for Justice; defending the Meek September 5, 2017

Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin might not have founded the Lacey and Larkin Frontera fund had they not endured a gruesome ordeal of violent detention. They endured it though, and hence, through the darkness, an opportunity to provide light was formed.

Nonetheless, they would have still found a way to get justice for the oppressed members of the Hispanic community in Arizona. Already, the two veteran journalists had exposed Sheriff Joe Arpaio for his oppressive and abrasive tactics of silencing the media and any verbal critic of his.

The self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America had subjected them to subjugation for far too long and their cries had been finally had.

The genesis of the conflict between Larkin and Lacey and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio began through a former journalist at the Phoenix Times. The Phoenix Times was co-founded by Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin and, therefore, they took up the journalist’s work when he departed for better career prospects.

He had picked up several complaints about Mr. Arpaio’s abuse of office and began investigating him. He had found out that despite the sheriff’s 72,000 dollars annual salary, he had made cash deposits of 690,000 in local real estate investments.

He had also recorded numerous complaints from locals in Hispanic neighborhoods that the sheriff would raid their homes with either search or arrest warrants, and take some of them into custody. Some never came back as they died in jail of treatable illnesses that they didn’t suffer from before their arrests. The numbers were alarming: 60 deaths in less than three years.

The situation got worse when the Village Voice Media executives and founders published an expose detailing all the transgressions of which county law enforcer was guilty. The sheriff used intimidation in response and a grand stand off ensued.

The defiant reporters ended up on the cold floors of the county jails as the situation got bad real quick. Larkin and Lacey sued Maricopa County for wrongful arrest and malicious conspiracy by its officials to silence the media.

They won the lawsuit which dragged in court for five years and were awarded 3.75 million dollars. They founded the Frontera Fund and donated to it the 3.75 million dollars.

The Frontera Fund liaises with other entities that lobby for civil, human and migrant rights. It supports all causes that undertake the protection of the First Amendment from any violation. The initiative primarily focuses on the emancipation of immigrants and Hispanics in the United States, especially in Arizona. Read more: Village Voice Media | Wikipedia and Phoenix New Time

It does so by partnering with lobby groups that prosecute biased laws and policies. Popularly referred as the Closed Fist Approach, lobby groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) use constitutional litigation to challenge the constitutionality of policies that criminalize immigration.

Another approach, the Open Fist Approach uses civil litigation against abrasive county, state and federal officials to set precedence against any violation of the First Amendment. Most lobby groups which further similar causes as those of the Frontera Fund receive publication and legal support from it. It also offers financial support in just situations.


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