It’s surprising to hear that, in these days, reporters are still being arrested for writing stories about corrupt law enforcers. What’s even more surprising is hearing about how long it takes for those same reporters to get justice. Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were arrested in 2007 and only now just got their settlement money.
The event in question happened nearly one decade ago. The two were arrested in the middle of the night by armed officers because they were writing an unflattering story about Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Their lawsuit against the county landed them $3.75 million.
Instead of spending their settlement on themselves, Lacey and Larkin used it to support local migrant rights groups around the region. They’ve always been supporters of migrants and starting the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund is how they’re giving back.
In 2007, the two reporters got word that Sheriff Arpaio was involved in grand jury proceedings that confiscated reporters’ notes on the sheriff. Even more shocking, those subpoenas also demanded the names and identities of citizens who read any of the online articles written about the sheriff.
Of course, the sheriff had no right or legal authority to arrest Lacey and Larkin, which led to their lawsuit against the county. Throughout their careers, Lacey and Larkin fought for the First Amendment, especially concerning reporters. Their win over Maricopa County is about more than protecting themselves from an abusive government.
It’s hard to believe that the son of a construction worker would become the leader of a multimillion-dollar media conglomerate. Michael Lacey grew up in Newark, NJ and moved to Arizona in the late 60s. Though he was there to attend college, he dropped out and joined a group of political writers. Read more: Michael Lacey | Crunchbase and Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund
He later joined Phoenix New Times and became executive editor. He also met Jim Larkin at New Times, and two became a winning duo. In a matter of years, New Times had grown and purchased Westword, a like-minded paper in Denver. They later purchased 16 more like-minded papers across the nation.
Not surprisingly, Jim Larkin is also an Arizona State University drop-out. When he and Lacey met in the 70s, they decided to carve their own paths. Since then, the two have been inseparable, even getting arrested together in 2007.
The first story the two reporters worked on was about campus protestors not being represented correctly by the popular media of that time. As Lacey and Larkin get older, they look back at their time spent fighting for the people as worth it.