Long House Studio

Larkin and Lacey: Fighting Oppression

A lot of people get involved when it’s about defeating oppression and corruption. Those two issues plague every nation and economy. Sadly, it’s a fact of life and people suffer because of it. Fortunately, there are people like Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, who’ve been fighting oppression for decades.

Back in the early 70s, Lacey and some friends created a campus newspaper that challenged the local media’s ultra-conservative coverage of everything.

After the first issue released, the tiny newspaper became an overnight success. Soon after, Lacey dropped out of college to devote his full attention to the popularizing paper.

Shortly after that, Jim Larkin, another college dropout, joined the team. Lacey served as the executive editor, and Larkin was in charge of advertising. Pretty soon, their small paper turned into a successful media company that covered several topics: from political issues to food and art.

In the early 80s, they began expanding into other states. In 1983, they bought a news-and-arts newspaper in Denver called Westword. That started a chain reaction, leading the duo to purchase 16 more like-minded newspapers across the country. Learn more about Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin: http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/new-times-founders-helping-fund-latino-program-at-asu-journalism-school-6661821

The newly created conglomerate, named Village Voice Media became one of the most respected media companies in the world.

Throughout their careers, they’ve faced many obstacles. They’ve been threatened and harassed, but no one ever actually did anything to them. That was until they challenged Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Joe Arpaio called himself the toughest sheriff in the country. Upon Phoenix New Time’s investigation, he proved to be a racist bigot.

Nothing about Arpaio proved worthy of a badge. New Times published several stories detailing his many misdeeds, including financial irregularities and extensive mismanagement in his own sheriff’s office. Most shockingly, he served a chief role in fostering much of Arizona’s anti-Mexican fear-mongering.

It goes without saying, Sheriff Arpaio did not respond kindly to New Time’s stories. His rage eventually pushed him to have Lacey and Larkin arrested in the most suspicious manner. He sent his fear and controversial “Selective Enforcement Unit” to removed Lacey and Larkin from their homes in the middle of the night. Read more: Jim Larkin | Angel.co and Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund

He followed that up with a brutal interrogation, where he tried to subpoena the personal information of New Time’s staff. Luckily, he got nothing. Lacey and Larkin got $3.7 million after suing Maricopa County.