Some of the names that shall remain engrained in the books of history in respect of the advocacy for human and migrant rights, civic participation and freedom of speech in Phoenix, Arizona are those of Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey.
Their resounding popularity is attributed to the fact that they launched the Lacey and Larkin Fontera Fund. The impressive duo founded the Village Voice Media and the Phoenix New Times in 1970 as they envisaged establishing alternative weekly publications in the state of Arizona.
On 18th October, 2007, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey were arrested by Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio on the grounds that they allegedly violated a myriad of the grand jury secrecy laws.
This was after they, through their publication, revealed the existence of the proceedings of the grand jury which sought notes made by reporters regarding the Sheriff. Upon this exposé, they were taken from their abodes in the wee hours of the night and consequently jailed. Read more: Jim Larkin | Crunchbase
The proceedings also encompassed a series of startling subpoenas that demanded the identity of the Phoenix, Arizona Citizens who read the stories published online on Phoenix New Times regarding Joe Arpaio, The County Sheriff. However, the charges that were made against them were subsequently dropped by the County Attorney, Andrew Thomas.
This move prompted Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey to file a law suit against both the County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, and the Prosecutor, Denis Wilenchik, on the grounds of abusing their powers and violating their First Amendment Rights.
The scales were tipped in favour of Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey as the 9th Circuit of Appeals in the Maricopa County ruled in 2012 that there was neither a probable nor reasonable cause for arresting the duo since the prosecutor, Denis Wilenchik, never consulted the grand jury. Upon settlement, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey received $3.75 million.
It was this amount that they used to establish the Lacey and Larkin Fontera Fund that not only envisaged supporting groups that were in the forefront for advocating for Civil rights in Phoenix but also sought to assist the Hispanic community that resided in Phoenix, Arizona. This foundation has played an indispensable role in protecting against racism and the abuse of civil rights in Phoenix. Moreover, it has also fronted the protection of the freedom of speech and civic participation.
Their remarkable impacts in the protection of civic rights have been felt in myriad places including la linea Fonteriza, which is the boundary line along the Mexican border. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: https://about.me/michael-lacey and http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/about-lacey-larkin-frontera-fund/jim-larkin/
The Lacey and Larkin Fontera Fund has also inspired the establishment of other organizations that seek to protect human rights. Such organizations include the San Diego-based Angeles Frontera, popularly referred to as the Border Angels that was founded by Enrique Morones.
The Lacey and Larkin Fontera Fund is a perfect exemplification of the colossal roles that journalists and the media at large may play in the protection of human rights and the freedom of speech. This foundation, therefore, remains a major frontier of human rights advocacy in Phoenix.