The Philanthropy of Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin

UPDATE – Lacey and Larkin encounter with Joe Arpaio

Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin are rights activist and media owners in the state of Arizona. They have a long history of pushing for equal treatment of all people living in the United States. Lacey and Larkin joined media about four decades ago. Together, they owned the Village Voice Media and the Phoenix New Times. Village Voice Media was later sold and is still an operational media outlet in the country. In the last decade, the two journalists spent time investigating notorious Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for actions that amounted to the violation of human rights. Joe Arpaio according to the two is the “toughest Sheriff” in America’s history, but he committed some of the worst injustices ever. He was accused of perpetrating violations of human rights based on racial discrimination.


Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were not lucky to escape his heinous acts. Due to the stories they used to write about him, Joe Arpaio authorized their arrest in October 2007. Lacey and Larkin were arrested in the middle of the night in an inhumane way an bundled at the back of police trucks by detectives sent by Arpaio. Looking back, Lacey believes they were arrested for a story they did in 2004m where they had exposed Arpaio’s for acts of corruption. Joe and his wife reportedly owned real estate property worth $700,000. The net worth could not tally since as a public servant, he was earning only $78,000 in a year. Joe Arpaio had used his powers to have his name redacted from the real estate records. The Phoenix New Times had carried this story which was done by their investigative reporter, John Dougherty.


Joe Arpaio was enraged by the actions of Phoenix Times to publish his address in the media and embarked on a three years witch hunt of trying to have the reporter prosecuted for revealing the address of a law enforcement officer to the public. Joe argued that exposure of his address put his life at risk due to the nature of his job.


When Lacey and Larkin got wind that the court was going to use a grand jury on their case, they published a story that condemned the act as a violation of the constitution. The same day they released the story, Lacey and Larkin were arrested at their homes and charged with revealing the content of a grand jury which was considered a crime.


The whole country reacted strongly to the arrest. Other media houses took up the matter and addressed it as an act of muzzling the media. The outcry that followed the arrest forced the county attorney and a friend of Joe Arpaio to call a press conference where he announced that the arrests were improper and that they should not have happened. Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin sued the country, and in 2013, a grand jury ruled voted to compensate them $3.75 million as a settlement for their illegal arrest.


Another case, Melendres v. Arpaio has cost the county over $70 million to date. Melendres was a Latino who had been tortured by the state under the administration of Joe Arpaio.

The Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund has benefited many immigrant rights organizations since its establishment in 2013. Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey established it to provide financial aid to groups that are committed to fighting for the rights of Hispanic immigrants who currently live in Arizona. Read more: Michael Lacey | Twitter and Jim Larkin |

The two individuals have built an excellent reputation as journalists, and they run Village Voice Media and the Phoenix New Times.

Larkin and Lacey were wrongfully arrested in 2007 for shading the light on the immigrant rights violations of Joe Arpaio. Arpaio served as the Maricopa County Sherriff, and his administration was very corrupt.

The detention of the journalist was against their Fifth Amendment rights, and this forced the Maricopa County to award them a $3.75 million compensation. The money funded the establishment of the charity organization.

Justice for Immigrant Families (JIF) is a foundation that was created by the Phoenix Legal Action Network. It receives funding from the Frontera Fund, and its charity work has currently benefited approximately 325,000 undocumented individuals.

Many immigrants who are based in Arizona are low-income earners, and therefore, they have not been able to access legal services. Some of this people have even been deported since they lacked attorney representation during their trials.

JIF has been teaming up with different pro bono lawyers in the area to offer affordable legal services to the immigrants. It has been informing people about their rights by organizing workshops, orientations, and legal consultations.

The organization has also worked in close collaboration with community agencies to make sure that the immigrants are empowered in different ways. Justice for Immigrant Families strives to ensure that immigrants and natives of Arizona have equal opportunities of getting social and economic privileges.

Promise Arizona (Paz) has been a beneficiary of the Frontera Fund from when it was established. Paz means peace in Spanish. The immigrant rights organization has been conducting its charity work since 2010 when it was founded to object that SB 1070 law.

The legislation had been passed to target the immigrants who live in Arizona, and it led to their harassment by the police. Paz and many other activist organizations in Arizona camped at the state capital for 103 days holding daily prayer vigils to end the SB 1070 law.

The court later found that the law was unconstitutional, and it was abolished. Joe Arpaio and other people who enforced SB 1070 were prosecuted. Paz has mobilized its members to hold demonstrations in Arizona and Washington, D.C advocating for immigrant rights.

The foundation has been under the leadership of Petra Falcon who is the executive director. Its outstanding work has assisted in improving the living condition of Arizona-based immigrants. Paz played a great role in pushing for reforms during the tenure of President Obama.

It has been educating young people about leadership to enhance civic engagement, supporting impartial voter registration, and encouraging people to register for DACA. Promise Arizona is dedicated to making sure that Arizona is transformed into a state that is welcoming to all individuals. The organization encourages people to achieve their dreams.

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