The Frontera Fund is a non-profit organization created by Jim Larkin and Michael Lacy. The organization was created to help Hispanics who have been victims of racial profiling and other abuses by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and its lead henchman, former Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The creation of the organization was quite fortuitous. Larkin and Lacey, Village Media Voice executives, also got a taste of Sheriff Joe’s home cooking on the evening of Oct. 18, 2007 when they were forcibly removed from their homes and arrested by the sheriff’s goon squad.
While charges were later dropped, it became apparent that the trumped-up charges stemmed from an expose written by the men, which appeared in the Phoenix New Times. The story presented a very unflattering portrait of Arpaio, his deputies and the mismanagement, fear-mongering and prisoner abuse going on at his jail.
Arpaio, the self-proclaimed “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” is not a man who likes being accused. He has made it a habit of punishing those who challenge his authority. Larkin and Lacey not only exposed his misdeeds, they also wrote about how his minions at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office worked in lockstep with him to bully journalists, readers and anyone else who got in his way.
The detention of Larkin and Lacey set off a constitutional firestorm. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling regarding the Arpaio’s abuse of power and civil rights violations was scathing. The court ruled that it was difficult to conceive a more direct assault on First Amendment Rights with public officials ordering critics to be arrested.
The court went on to rule that that arrest warrants, as well as the subpoenas were invalid because they were not issued under correct protocols.
Larkin and Lacey won a $3.2 million lawsuit against the sheriff’s department. But instead of pocketing the money, they created the Frontera Fund.
Larkin says he grew up in Arizona, and he fully understands that the legal rights of all citizens should be protected.
“Arpaio abused many people, especially those with brown skin. He helped foster a climate of fear,” said Lacey.
MICHAEL LACEY AND JIM LARKIN GET JUSTICE AND FREEDOM
About Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin
Michael Lacey grew up at Newark in New Jersey. He attended Arizona State University where he dropped out in 1970 as him, and a group of students were pioneer publishers of the Phoenix New Times. After two years, Michael Lacey met Jim Larkin who was an ASU dropout with the aim of improving the campus paper into a business that would be able to sustain itself.
Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were able to transform the Campus paper which became a very common read among individuals. Lacey was at the command of the New Times where he was the Executive Editor, and Jim Larkin was in charge of the advertising side of the read. The highly spirited read was able to grow in its supply and circulation as it talked about so many political and social issues which made it so prominent among other alternative newspapers that normally sell around the nation.
Their Arrest and road to justice
On October 18th, 2007, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were arrested after posting an article in Phoenix New Times. They were arrested for publishing an article that revealed grand jury subpoena was targeting writers, editors and the readers of the Phoenix New Times which was contrary to the Constitution of the United States. The arrests were made by Joe Arpaio who was a very notorious anti-immigrant sheriff based in Maricopa County in Arizona. After a loud public outcry, the subpoenas were done away with, and all charges against them were dropped after investigations revealed that the warrants of arrest were not original.
Later on, in 2013 Maricopa County paid Larkin and Lacey 3.75 million dollars to settle a lawsuit brought by the duo for wrongful arrest. They used the money to start Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund which sought to distribute the proceeds acquired from the settlement to the Latin-Americans all over Arizona State.
Since Lacey and Larkin were committed to the First Amendment, their Village Voice Media Holdings was known to have a good reputation for long-form investigative reporting, sophisticated coverage of music, food, art, films, local events and they also had magazine-style feature writing. Due to over 9 million print readers and over 56 million monthly readers, it had received several awards with the Pulitzer Prize being the major one.
They sold Village Voice Media and decided to focus all their time on affirming First Amendment right so that they could publish Backpage.com which was an online site. Backpage was however sold in 2015 as they focused on Front Page Confidential which use to show that they are individuals committed to the freedom of the Press and also seek to cover First Amendment issues.