The night of 18th October 2007 was a night that will forever stay engraved in the memories of Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin when armed deputies stormed into their houses and forcefully arrested them. The deputies who raided the journalists received the commands of arresting them from Sheriff Joe Arpaio for Maricopa County.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio at the time led one of Maricopa’s most feared enforcement unit dubbed the “Selective Enforcement Unit.” That fateful evening the group had stormed forcefully in the houses of the two and with brutal force removed them and shoved them into the SUVs. The SUVs had foreign number plates from Mexico that had windows that had black tints. The two were then whisked away and then booked into two different jails which were all under the management of the Sheriff himself.
This forceful arrest and detention were all instigated and enforced by Sheriff Joe Arpaio who had for a long time been branding himself as one of the toughest Sheriff in town. The reason for this was apparently due to a story the two journalists had run on Phoenix New Times exposing some crimes that the Sheriff himself had done.
In the stories run by the two journalists, Sheriff Arpaio was revealed for the crucial role he had played in encouraging and in sighting others in the Sheriff’s department against Mexican immigrants in the State of Arizona. The exposé by the Phoenix New Times revealed quite a lot about what the Sheriff himself had done. In addition to this, many other stories that included; mistreatment of those arrested, the Sheriff’s systematic way of prosecuting those arrested, arresting people based on race, the inhumane treatment of inmate that resulted in their deaths, and the detention of Latino people unconstitutional revealed. The runnings of these stories provoked the Sheriff prompting him to arrest and detain the two journalists unlawfully.
The illegal detention and jailing of the two caused a public outcry by the community led to them being released, and the charges they faced were all dropped. A long court battle then ensued when the two journalists went and sued the county Sheriff department for the violation of their rights stipulated in the First Amendment. 2012 saw the court and the long legal battle by declaring its ruling in favor of the two states that they had been unlawfully arrested and detained with good cause.
As a result of the court then awarded them with $3.7 million as the settlement. It is this money that the two journalists then used to launch the Frontera fund which is used to support many civil rights organizations which fight for the rights of people all over the world.