A story that sounds like it came from a Hollywood script tells the true story of how two media executives were arrested, escaped possible death and survived to tell the tale. The story tells the tale of Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin. It explains the reasons why and how they created the Frontera Fund to help Mexican immigrants in America. Jim Larkin ironically shares the name with James Larkin, one of Irelands most famous activists. James Larkin was an Irish socialist activist who organized and founded the Irish Transport and General Workers Union in the 1800’s.
Jim Larkin and Mike Lacey’s adventures on the other hand took place in the winter of 2007. On a calm evening in Phoenix the two men were taken from their homes, arrested and placed in separate jail cells. The man responsible was Maricopa Country Sherrif, Joe Arapaio. Joe Arpaio created his own posse called the Selective Enforcement Unit.
Jim and Mike ran the Phoenix New Times, a newspaper that was often blunt and truthful about its articles. Joe was enraged by the newspaper, which had recently published an article exposing his criminal and brutal behavior. The New Times article exposed Joe’s practices such as, jail inmate beatings, and deaths. The terrible living conditions and misbehavior was backed by strong racist agendas. Jim and Mike published an article detailing the Maricopa County sheriff’s department’s attempt to subpoenas the Phoenix New Times as well. When the public found out about Mike and Jim’s arrest everyone complained and they were freed immediately.
Jim and Mike’s rights had been violated as they were forcibly taken and arrested without cause. A legal suit followed quickly and the Ninth Circuit court awarded Jim and Mike $3.7 million in damages. After seeing the harsh conditions in the Maricopa jail firsthand and the mistreatment of individuals based solely on the color of their skin, Jim and Mike unselfishly used the settlement money to form the Frontera Fund.
The Frontera Fund helps Mexican immigrant’s establish their civil rights in Arizona. The adventures of Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin shows us that the legal system in America has two sides, one that is unregulated and discriminatory and on the other hand when these actions are brought forth to courts they are rectified and the victims are awarded substantial settlements for their mental and physical distress. This story should inspire individuals affected by discrimination and racism that there is a side to law enforcement that is helpful and powerful against tyrants if you bring the cause to light.