Joe Arpaio, the self-declared “America’s Toughest Sherriff” is a free man thanks to President Donald Trump’s pardon. This came in shortly before the retired sheriff was due to be presented to the court for sentencing on a contempt of court charge that would have seen him spend up to six months behind bars.
And while the move didn’t come as a surprise given Arpaio’s political influences, it couldn’t have been more disappointing to the people he has hurt in his two-decade career.
While he was elected as a reform candidate, Arpio surprised many when he turned his back on reformist policies and adopted rather extremist views and actions. He went on to become one of the most controversial sheriffs of his time through his brazen neglect of human rights.
The former sheriff is for instance reported to have fed the county jail inmates bologna and rotten fruits before parading female chain gangs to clean up the county roads.
Reaction to criticism
During his tenure, Arpaio was not always friendly to critics like Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey who continually broadcasted and reprimanded his human-rights override actions in their New Times publication.
He effectively arrested the two illegally and detained them without reasonable cause in 2013 before the District Attorney came to their rescue. They would later sue him for illegal detention in a case that would seem them awarded $3.5 million compensation.
Larkin and Lacey reaction to the pardon
Larkin and Lacey point out to the fact that Arpaio was one of Trump’s presidential campaign supporters. He supported his bid long before anyone believed he would win the GOP nomination. They also share a host of rather unpopular ideologies like ridding the country of illegal immigrants through deportation.
Lacey and Larkin, therefore, view Trump’s action as a miscalculated payback to a loyalist and a spit in the face of his subjects, some of whom died or suffered permanent injuries in the county jails under his watch.
They consider the action retrogressive in a metropolitan country struggling hard to move away from the pangs of racism that rocked its foundation.
The two also view Trump’s action as a blatant betrayal of Americans citizen’s human rights by the highest office of the land, ironically supposed to protect them from people like Arpaio and their misconstrued ideologies.
Recollecting on the painful memories during Arpaio’s tenure
To paint a picture of how wrong and misinformed the president must have been in pardoning the former Sherriff, Lacey and Larkin give an account of the painful memories they and others had at the hands of Arpaio.
These include illegal detention in concentration camps with unbearable temperatures, wrongful deaths of inmates due to suicide and beatings as well as misuse of power and intimidation of oversight authorities.
Taking the fight for human rights a notch higher
The two have formed the Frontera fund, curved out the settlement amounts and dedicated to the support of human rights groups in Arizona. Trump’s actions have also prompted them to get back to publication and activism with the launch of their new website the Front Page Confidential.
This will be dedicated to highlighting threats to free speech and championing the adherence to the First Amendment.