For some 25 years Sheriff Joe Arpaio presided over a reign of terror in Maricopa County, Arizona. There his brutal police tactics victimizing immigrants and migrant workers earned him the nickname, “America’s Toughest Sheriff.”
But then the table turned on the out-of-control lawman. He became a convicted criminal himself. Arpaio had been repeatedly warned to stop racially profiling people of Hispanic heritage and respect the basic human rights of those he imprisoned in cruel “Tent City” facilities. Read more: Jim Larkin | Crunchbase and Michael Lacey | Crunchbase
Arpaio just kept at until he was charged with criminal contempt of court. He was tried and convicted. The former sheriff should have been staring down a jail sentence. Instead, President Donald Trump issued him a full pardon. His record clear, the criminal lawman is now seeking a seat in the U.S. Senate.
Arpaio has a long tradition of treated the Constitution of the United States like something with which to line a birdcage. It was in 2007 that he violated the 1st Amendment by arresting and jailing two media men, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin.
Larkin and Lacey were the owners of Village Voice Media, including the Pheonix New Times. It was this publication that had been hammering away at the lawless activities of Sheriff Arpaio’s office. The thin-skinned sheriff cracked one day and ordered his henchmen to remove Larkin and Lacey from their homes by cover of darkness and toss them in a county cell.
It was an action completely without basis in law. Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were released from jail and they promptly sued. After a certain amount of legal rambling, a Federal Court of Appeals awrded the journalists $3.7 million in damages. It seems that Sheriff Arpaio had just cost his constituents, the folks of Maricopa County, a lot of money.
Larkin and Lacey then rolled over their huge cash windfall into a new foundation dedicated to helping the very people Arpaio had spent years victimizing — undocumented immigrants. They created the Larkin and Lacey Frontera Fund.
In the 10 years since it was established, the Larkin and Lacey Frontera Fund has provided legal aid, educational assistance, food, shelter and other help to thousands of immigrant people, as well as support for a variety of Hispanic and Latino cultural groups throughout the American southwest.
It’s one good thing that came out of Joe Arpaio’s repugnant and racist stint as a man with a badge and no basic sense of humanity.