The Frontera Fund has been fighting for the rights of Hispanic communities and migrants across the Southwest of the U.S. for a number of years after the charitable network was established by the journalists Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin. The Larkin and Lacey Frontera Fund can thank former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for its existence as the $3.75 million the writers used to establish the fund was drawn from a financial settlement made against Maricopa County and Sheriff Arpaio for illegally imprisoning the Village Voice Media executives.
The ire of Sheriff Arpaio was drawn when members of Maricopa County’s law enforcement department set out to use a Superior Court to illegally obtain information about staff and readers of the Phoenix New Times. Larkin and Lacey had been at the heart of the campaign to shine a light of the abuses being committed by Sheriff Arpaio and his fellow members of the Maricopa County Sheriffs Department. Among the actions identified by Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin in the Phoenix New Times were the financial irregularities seen in the accounts of Maricopa County’s Sheriffs Department and the racial profiling of Hispanic members of Maricopa’s community.
In October 2007, Sheriff Arpaio and his fellow members of the law enforcement department illegally obtain a Super Court warrant calling on the Phoenix New Times to reveal details of its employees and readers, including IP addresses. Instead of fighting the warrant in court, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin decided their readers should know the truth about what they were being asked to do and made this their lead story; the response from Joe Arpaio was swift and included the arrest and detention of Larkin and Lacey for their failure to comply with the illegal order.
Despite being detained at two separate prisons, both Larkin and Lacey were freed within 24 hours and a national outcry about their arrest and the attack by Arpaio on the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution led to a lawsuit being filed detailing the illegal imprisonment of Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin. The $3.75 million the writers were awarded has been used to support the Hispanic groups Sheriff Joe Arpaio was targeting with his illegal racial profiling in Maricopa County.
How The Frontera Fund Came To Be
The Frontera Fund was founded by Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin following a lawsuit against Joe Arpaio.
A former County Sheriff in the state of Arizona, Joe Arpaio was known nationally for his tough reputation and how he and his team cracked down on illegal immigration. He served as Maricopa County Sheriff for 24 years and created a lot of controversy during that time. He was even a vocal supporter of Donald Trump.
Most notably, he was known for the well-publicized arrests of two executives from Village Voice Media, Michael Lacey, and Jim Larkin. They dared to criticize Arpaio for his action in a piece written for the Phoenix New Times. They were arrested in their homes and taken away in unmarked vehicles. After public outcry from these arrests, the men were released less than a day later.
After a lengthy court battle, it was determined that Larkin and Lacey’s First Amendment rights were violated and they were also arrested without just cause. With the $3.75 million settlement, they opened the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund to give grants to causes in Arizona that work toward the rights of immigrants. They also founded the Front Page Confidential website to address issues related to the threats against free speech.