In 2007, two Village Voice Media executives, Lacey and Jim Larkin, were without consent taken from their homes in the Phoenix Area into unmarked SUV’s. The well known SEU, Selective Enforcement Unit of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, sent these two individuals to separate jails. They were wrongfully imprisoned, stating to other inmates as the reason for being there as “writing.”
Phoenix News Times received several grand jury subpoenas from allies in the Attorney Office of Arpaio on writers, editors, and readers. Both the two executives chose this as an opportunity not to shrink away from the subpoenas, but write about them instead. Phoenix News Times had been known to produce stories talking about the workings of Arpaio. How he unlawfully imprisons individuals based solely on racial profiling and how the horrific treatment of inmates. Some inmates receive bad treatment, while others have subsequently died in their time at the jails managed by Arpaio.
Having been wrongfully taken into custody because of not allowing the expression of First Amendment rights, Arpaio’s abuse of power cost the Maricopa County $3.7 million dollars in a settlement paid to Lacey and Larkin. Instead of using this money for themselves, this money was put into launching the Frontera Fund. This was created to fund the efforts of organizations that promote equality in the Hispanic community.
Both Lacey and Larkin see the fear Arpaio has placed within their community because of his handling and tactics regarding the Hispanic community. By administering these dollars to nonprofit organizations, Hispanic rights and causes will now have a stronger voice and impact.