The Joe Arpaio Incident Aids The Development Of The Frontera Fund

Across Arizona and communities close to the U.S.-Mexican border in the Southeast of the nation, The Frontera Fund has grown a strong reputation as one of the leading human rights organizations fighting for the lives of the Hispanic community. The roots of The Frontera Fund have an unlikely source, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the one-time Maricopa County Sheriff who has seen his name become a byword for the injustices leveled at the Hispanic communities of the border region.


Sheriff Arpaio did not provide the funding for The Frontera Fund directly but was part of a criminal conspiracy to silence two investigative journalists who were looking into the financial irregularities of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department. Village Voice Media executives and investigative journalists, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin published their story in the Phoenix New Times and almost immediately faced the backlash of Sheriff Arpaio and his Maricopa County allies; a Grand Jury subpoena was quickly obtained in an illegal way calling for the disclosure of the personal information of the readers of the Phoenix New Times.


Knowing the subpoena was illegal and included an attack on the U.S. Constitution, Larkin and Lacey refused the request and decided the best option was to make the actions of Sheriff Arpaio and his allies front page news. Following the publication of the article in the Phoenix New Times, Larkin and Lacey were arrested at their homes on the night of October 18, 2007, by officials in unmarked vehicles. This obvious intimidation tactic from Sheriff Arpaio and his allies saw Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin detained overnight for their failure to comply with an obviously illegal subpoena.


The fight against the actions of Sheriff Arpaio began almost immediately with media outlets across the nation coming out on the side of the two journalists and calling for their release at the earliest opportunity. Following their release, Larkin and Lacey began a court case which would end up in the Ninth Circuit Supreme Court where they were awarded $3.7 million for their unlawful arrest and incarceration. The compensation was used by Larkin and Lacey to create The Frontera Fund which has been at the heart of the fight to restore the pride and integrity of the Hispanic community in the Southeast which was the target of the much of the victimization of Sheriff Arpaio over the course of two decades.