Over 40 years ago, Michael Lacey moved to Arizona to attend college. Over the course of his higher education, he saw too often the negative impact of Arizona’s ultra-conservative media. Along with some friends, he wrote his first paper about how the media portrayed local campus antiwar protests.
Since then, he’s teamed up with Jim Larkin and co-founded Phoenix New Times and Village Voice Media. Together, they’ve turned VVM into a multimillion-dollar media conglomerate consisting of 17 like-minded newspapers from all over the country. VVM is also renowned as one of the most respectable investigative reporting papers across all subjects. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/potmsearch/detail/submission/6427427/Jim_Larkin
That same devotion to investigative reporting is what got them in trouble in with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. They did nothing wrong, but their dedication to the truth caught his attention in a very bad way. During 2007, they published a lot of stories about his less than savory activities.
What transpired next led to a multimillion-dollar court settlement awarded to Lacey and Larkin. With their money, they created the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund. The fund supports numerous organizations up and down the Mexican border that fight for migrant rights. They’ve always believed in standing up for those with no voice.
It’s sad to say but in Arizona, there aren’t a lot of open-minded people willing to stop abuse toward migrants. In fact, Joe Arpaio, the sheriff at that time, was an advocate for anti-Mexican fear-mongering. He’s the head of the sheriff’s office, and he’s supporting and participating in Latino hate-based functions.
He often abused his power so that he could systematically persecute Latinos. Most mainstream newspapers ignored his behavior or wrote him off as benign, but Phoenix New Times decided to stand up to him. It was by no means an easy thing to do. Sheriff Arpaio repeatedly used his position to silence his critics.
Sheriff Arpaio showed how far he was willing to go to shut Lacey and Larkin up on October 18, 2007. That was the night that he sent his controversial “Selective Enforcement Unit” to arrest Lacey and Larkin. Of course, he didn’t just stop at arresting them.
Once he had them separated, he began “interrogating” them. He wanted the names, personal information, and IP addresses of their editors, writers, and even their readers. He wanted to destroy every shred of evidence they had on him and punish anyone who might’ve read any of Phoenix New Time’s stories.