The Story of the Frontera Fund

The Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund begins over 40 years ago. Michael Lacey, raised in New Jersey, moved to Arizona to attend school. He eventually met up with Jim Larkin, and the duo co-founded Phoenix New Times. They soon dropped out of college and focused all of their attention on their new enterprise.

Very quickly, Phoenix New Times began the golden standard for investigative reporting in the Arizona region. Most other media outlets were ultra-conservative and didn’t report stories from an unbiased viewpoint. It was New Time’s dedication to investigating that started a battle with local Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Read more; Michael Lacey | Facebook and Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund

The duo, unlike everyone else in Arizona, didn’t ignore Arpaio’s shady behavior. They immediately noticed that he was absolutely unfit to be in law enforcement. He was a patriarch for much of Arizona’s anti-Mexican fear-mongering. He pretended to be a lawful many doing a tough job, but New Times knew better.

They wrote several stories detailing his many financial irregularities. They cited how poorly he managed his own sheriff’s office. He managed several local jails, where he repeatedly mistreated inmates and left them in below-standard health conditions. He also abused his power to go after his critics.

Two of his critics, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, didn’t back down. No matter what Sheriff Arpaio did, they continued publishing stories about his misdeeds. Eventually, Arpaio’s rage drove him to cross a line even he couldn’t come back from. In the middle of the night, he had them arrested.

Arresting someone in the middle of the night doesn’t sound that scary, but Lacey and Larkin hadn’t done anything illegal. They just published a story about Arpaio using fake subpoenas to do his dirty work. Nevertheless, their arrest made national news. In fact, their arrests seemed more like two brutal kidnappings to most people.

That incident led to national outrage. Sheriff Arpaio was now in the spotlight, which he couldn’t handle. Lacey and Larkin were immediately released and did what all reporters do after an event like that; they wrote about it. They also sued Maricopa County and won a $3.75 million settlement.

They used that money to create the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund. The fund supports activist groups that fight for human and migrant rights along the Mexican border. It also helps Arizona-based organizations that protect freedom of speech and civic participation.

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