There are two names in the media business that everyone knows: Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin. Lacey and Larkin founded Phoenix New Times, which they still own, and Village Voice Media, which they sold in 2012. Though they created one of the most respected media companies in the nation, they’re most recognized for their encounter with Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Read more: Michael Lacey | Twitter and Michael Lacey | LinkedIn
For those who don’t know, Sheriff Joe Arpaio was the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. Arizona is one of the most conservative states in the United States. Living in Arizona was never easy for the duo, but they managed to create a pocket of unbiased life for themselves and their readers. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/immigration/2014/12/16/proceeds-arpaio-suit-fund-asu-journalism-chair/20480479/
Phoenix New Times is their best weapon against the ultra-conservative views of many of the local media. Sheriff Arpaio was a man who most outlets ignored or praised. When New Times took a look at him, they immediately noticed too much to be ignored.
The battle that followed ended with Lacey and Larkin being awarded $3.75 million. They used the money to create the Frontera Fund, a fund that supports groups promoting migrant, civil, and human rights along the Mexican border. The fund also supports groups promoting civic participation in the Phoenix area.
The battle officially began when Arpaio realized that Phoenix New Times was writing stories about him. Unlike other stories, they reported on his actual activities; for example, his patriarchal role in anti-Mexican fear-mongering in Arizona. He even used his power to affect political posturing.
What really started to shock people about Arpaio were his horrible management skills. He’s the only sheriff in the country who can’t properly manage his own office. He spent time persecuting and harassing Latinos than he did running the sheriff’s office. He also horribly managed the local jails he was in charge of overseeing.
Obviously, New Times’ stories made him angry. Therefore, on October 18, 2007, he had Lacey and Larkin arrested and jailed. That seemed like a little far fetch until people heard the details of the arrests. For a start, the arrests occurred in the middle of the night.
Both men were forcibly removed from their homes by the sheriff’s “Selective Enforcement Unit”, who has its own controversial past. They were forced into an unmarked SUV with Mexican license plates and driven to separate jails, where the abuse continued.