How the Frontera Fund Came to Be

In the early 70s, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin started their first newspaper. Lacey grew up in Newark, NJ and moved to Arizona to attend school. He’d learned how important education was from his father, who was a construction worker. Lacey started college in the late 60s. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://james-larkin.com/ and http://james-larkin.com/about/

By the early 70s, he’d met Jim Larkin. By that time, Lacey had already gotten into writing. Just before meeting Larkin, he’d written the inaugural issue of Phoenix New Times with some fellow students. Not long after joining forces, both men dropped out of school to focus on their new newspaper.

Before long, New Times was a thriving piece of Phoenix culture. It was one of the few news sources that didn’t have an ultra-conservative viewpoint on current events. That divide between real news and slanted news would eventually lead Larkin and Lacey to dispute with the local sheriff.

The sheriff in question was Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County. Fighting the ultra-conservative views of the local majority meant they supported migrant rights, which wasn’t a popular belief in Arizona at that time. Sheriff Arpaio, despite being a man of the law, directly opposed migrant rights and didn’t like Latinos being in his community.

All of this started after New Times wrote a story about the sheriff’s side dealings. Most of Arizona’s media coverage of Sheriff Arpaio made him look like a hero or a benign sheriff just doing his job. New Times revealed that he was, in fact, a racist, abusive man who enjoyed doing wrong.

Most shockingly, his personally hosted and led anti-Mexican fear-mongering rallies. He also used his power to silence anyone that tried to undermine him or reveal any of his side businesses. New Times was the first organization he couldn’t bully that told everyone about the many financial irregularities in his records. Read more: Jim Larkin | Angel.co and Jim Larkin | Crunchbase

Eventually, they made him so mad, he had them arrested. The arrests sound more like kidnappings considered how they occurred. In any case, Lacey and Larkin weren’t jailed long before public outcry demanded they be released.

When they were released, they wrote a complete story about their dealings with the sheriff; then they filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County. That suit ended with them being awarded a $3.75 million settlement. They used that money to create the Frontera Fund.

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