Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin are the owners of Phoenix New Times and Village Voice Media. They’ve been in the reporting business for over 40 years. They recently made headlines after donating their multimillion-dollar settlement to local migrant rights and free speech and civic actions organizations. Most of the money went to their Lacey & Larkin Frontera Fund, which also supports local organizations.
In October 2007, both Lacey and Larkin were arrested on false charges. The man responsible for their wrongful arrest was Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Since their arrest, they’ve sued the county and been awarded a $3.75 million settlement. Lacey and Larkin had proof of the sheriff’s wrongdoings, and their arrest was his attempt to stop them from revealing that information.
Sheriff Arpaio didn’t stop at arresting Lacey and Larkin. He also wanted all their notes containing his name and the identities of anyone who might have read their articles about him. That, in itself, was the most horrible part of the entire ordeal.
When all was said and done, Lacey and Larkin prevailed over the corrupt Sheriff. As time passed, more about the story came out. Sheriff Arpaio was more crooked than anyone thought. He’d been using grand jury subpoenas to do much of his dirty work.
Everything about their arrest was off. For a start, it was completely instigated by the sheriff. There was no proof of any wrongdoing, yet, Arpaio sent his toughest deputies to drag Lacey and Larkin from their homes. They were placed in unmarked SUVs and booked into separate jails.
As more came out, the arrest looked more like a kidnapping. Arpaio always considered himself “tough on crime”, but Lacey and Larkin weren’t criminals. There were just media executives who focused on exposing Arpaio for what he is. The strangest part about their arrest was that the SUVs had Mexican license plates.
Since the 70s, Lacey’s had a knack for going against Arizona’s conservative mentality. Back then, he was a college dropout protesting the war. He noticed that the media was misrepresenting the protestors and decided to write his own story about the events. That kickstarted what would become his career.
His partner, Jim Larkin had a similar start. Both met in college and dropped out to start their media company. After that first paper, they began growing in popularity. Eventually, they purchased 17 other like-minded papers to form their conglomerate.