Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio does not have the best national reputation. A recent article published on the Phoenix New Times’ website discusses some of the controversy surrounding Arpaio.
“The Enduring Sins of Joe Arpaio: Newspapermen Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin Speak Out in Response to Donald Trump’s Pardon of America’s Worst Sheriff” is a compelling piece discussing a lot of the controversy surrounding Arpaio. It turns out that being awarded the moniker “America’s Worst Sheriff”, was not that far off from the truth. No matter Arpaio’s original intention, he will go down as one of the most terrible law enforcement officials in the United States.
While Arpaio has a lot of enemies, he also has one very powerful friend. In fact, President Donald Trump’s decision to pardon Arpaio for one of his many crimes shows just how far his political reach is. Arpaio spent over 25 years in his office and he learned quite a few tricks when it came to politics. In fact, the Phoenix new Times creators Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin are not at all surprised at Arpaio’s political acumen. They’ve seen him play up to the media and other politicians for years, there was no doubt in their minds that he would find a way to get out of serving any jail time for his recent transgression.
The actual transgression that Arpaio needed a pardon for was a charge of contempt of court. This was because Arpaio had not adhered to a previous ruling in the class action lawsuit Melendres V. Arpaio. This case was initially brought against the Maricopa County Police Department and Arpaio because of their attempts to increase deportation of illegal immigrants by stereotyping citizens.
This led to unlawful stops and harassment of US citizens based solely on the way that they looked. Arpaio was ordered to immediately cease the practice of stereotyping and begin reporting to a court monitor to make sure that he had adjusted the behavior of the department. Arpaio failed to do this, earning him a charge of contempt.
Larkin and Lacey are no stranger to Arpaio’s antics. They had their own run-in with him on October 18, 2007, when they were arrested in their homes and jailed for something they published in their paper.
While Arpaio originally believed that he had just cause to arrest the men, he did not and was in direct violation of their human rights. In response to this, after Larkin and Lacey were released they turned around and sued Maricopa County. The journalist won their case and received 3.75 million.
While Larkin and Lacey did not have their rights violated for very long, it was still a huge moment in their lives. They decided that they wanted to use the money they won to give back to others that had suffered at the hands of Arpaio.
With the money, they started the Larkin and Lacey Frontera Fund. This fund is directly aimed at helping migrants in Arizona. It continues to be a beacon, during times when it feels as though justice has not been served.