The former sheriff of Maricopa county self-styled toughest sheriff in America 85-year-old Sheriff Joe Arpaio is one of the most controversial figures in a law enforcement officer. He was first elected into office in 1992 after he retired as a drug enforcement officer.
He had campaigned on a platform of reform and ending drug problems in the area only for him to turn around and become a brutal racist sheriff in the course of the six years he continued to get back into office. He had made it his mission to profile the Latino community members, and they were arrested and sent to his detention centers which were worse than anything imaginable.
Offenders were reported to die in mysterious circumstances in this jails, and the sheriff always had one or another excuse for the death while ensuring he never took responsibility for any wrongdoing. This was also the case when a woman who had diabetes was denied her medication, and she slowly slipped into a coma in a while under the custody of the sheriff.
This types of human rights violations did not go unreported primarily by a pair of fearless journalist Michael lacey and Jim Larkin, the former owners of the reserved phoenix new times. The level of accuracy and detail that was presented by the two especially when covering some of the actions of Joe Arpaio made them permanent enemies. Read more: Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund and Michael Lacey | Twitter
The sheriff would further be irked when they reported in the papers of the real estate properties that the sheriff owned. The said property had a value surpassing seven hundred thousand dollars for a public officer who made an estimated 78,000 dollars annually.
This and other exposes who make the sheriff likely to target the paper. It started by him banning their reporters from his press conferences then it moved on to denial of audit reports before it finally escalated to the arrest of Jim and Micheal.
The arrest was conducted in 2007 August when plainclothes officers from the sheriff’s department arrested the two at the stroke of midnight. They were taken into custody in two different unmarked SUVs. The realization that the sheriff had arrest Lacey and Larkin led to an outcry from the media and the public which led to their release and eventual dropping of all the dubious charges that had been placed on them.
The turn of events would see the sheriff’s plan backfire and set off a chain of events that saw him and the entire office sued. The ninth district appeals court ruled that indeed there had been a violation of the 1st amendment rights as illegal arrest and detention.
The county had no option but to settle the case; this would cost the Maricopa taxpayer 3.75 million dollars which were paid to Lacey and Larkin.
The amount was dedicated to the start of the Frontera fund an organization that is today on the forefront fighting for the freedoms and rights of the Hispanic community and other minorities within Arizona and beyond.