The name of Sheriff Joe Arpaio has become well-known across the world in the last few months after the former Maricopa County law enforcement official was pardoned on many charges by President Donald Trump in a controversial decision. Most people in Arizona and across the U.S. know of the Sheriff because of his self-described stance as the “toughest sheriff in the U.S.”, but he is also known as an unlikely figure in the establishment of The Frontera Fund, a charitable network of groups established to benefit Hispanic and minority groups across the nation.
The establishment of The Frontera Fund began on the night of October 18th, 2007 when Village Voice Media executives and writers Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were arrested by officials with links to Sheriff Arpaio for their stance on an illegally obtained Supreme Court warrant; in an amazing attack on the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Arizona legal officials sought to obtain a large amount of information about the writers, Michal Lacey and Jim Larkin, employees of their Phoenix New Times, and the readers of the publication.
Prior to their arrest, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin had been served with the warrant from Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his allies and had immediately questioned the legality of the order. Instead of simply returning to court and fighting the Supreme Court decision the writers wrote the story of the actions they faced and appeared to anger Arpaio to such an extent he ordered the arrest of the two. Not only did Lacey and Larkin report the unhealthy conditions of Arpaio operated jails, the targeting and racial profiling of Hispanics by the Sheriff, and his anti-Hispanic rhetoric, the writers also revealed Arpaio’s allies had asked for a record of all subscribers to the Phoenix New Times and their IP addresses.
The illegal arrests of Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin saw the pair removed in unmarked vehicles with Mexican license plates and only lasted less than 24 hours. The illegal Supreme Court order and arrest of the writers led to a seven figure financial settlement later used by Larkin and Lacey to establish The Frontera Fund and work to improve the lives of Hispanic communities across the Southwest of America.