Most success stories have numerous ups and downs. The better success stories center on an underdog. The best success stories involve overcoming corruption. These stories, in particular, entertain and inspire people to fight for what they believe in. That’s exactly what Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin’s story does.
Lacey and Larkin founded their first newspaper in the early 70s. Lacey took over as executive editor, and Larkin handled all of their advertising. Since then, the duo co-founded Village Voice Media, a highly respected investigative reporting conglomerate. Their on-point reporting earned VVM countless journalistic honors and millions of print and online readers.
Their readers trust what their write because of their dedication to the truth. That truth, while it is the correct way to report something, got them in a lot of trouble with their local sheriff.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was seen as a benign, social character; everyone wrote him off as just the sheriff. Phoenix New Times, Lacey and Larkin’s first newspaper, immediately discovered the corruption that drove Arpaio.
Sheriff Arpaio did a lot of horrible things because he had the power to get away with it. New Times cited several instances of his poor management skills when it came to his own office and the jails he managed. He repeatedly abused and harassed Latinos, and he was a significant representative of the anti-Mexican fear-mongering.
Not surprising, Sheriff Arpaio also had numerous financial irregularities. He also used his power to silence any critics, which included Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin. Most of his critics backed off shortly after he “met with them”.
Lacey and Larkin fought against the ultra-conservative – borderline racist – locals for over 40 years; they weren’t scared of Arpaio. They continued writing stories about the sheriff until Arpaio responded with force.
The sheriff’s response was brutal and illegal. He had Lacey and Larkin dragged from their homes in the middle of the night under the pretense that they were under arrest. He had no real evidence suggesting that they’d broken the law. He just wanted to force them into submission.
Needless to say, it didn’t work. Lacey and Larkin sued Maricopa County and won in the United State Court of Appeals for the ninth circuit. Their settlement of $3.75 million was used to create the Frontera Fund, which supports civil, human, and migrant-rights groups along the Mexican border.
Read more: Michael Lacey | Crunchbase