There have been Presidents who have used their pardon power more aggressively than others and that was the choice President Trump made when he pardoned Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America. Arpaio was elected as sheriff for Maricopa County, Arizona six times, before losing a re-election bid in 2016.
Arpaio and Trump spent a lot of time together during the 2016 presidential campaign. After Arpaio was convicted of contempt, which could have resulted in a six-month maximum prison sentence, he was pardoned by President Trump. It was Trump’s first pardon as president.
Many people know Arpaio for his tough stand on criminal behavior and holding people accountable for their illegal actions, as any sheriff would be expected.
However, there is another side that many in the community were not privileged to, which resulted in the wrongful imprisonment and violation of the First Amendment Rights of Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, owners of Village Voice in Phoenix, Arizona. Lacey is the executive editor and Larkin is the CEO.
By the order of Sheriff Arpaio, both men were hauled away from their home in the middle of the night and falsely charged with disclosing details stemming from a grand-jury investigation that involved Arpaio, the sheriff’s office, and his deputies. The information was provided in articles that were posted in the Phoenix News Times by the two journalists.
At the time, Arpaio was being accused of being overly aggressive in his orders to deputies, particularly with immigrants and the Latino community, including allegations of racial profiling.
Sheriff Arpaio was also under intense scrutiny by the community for his stern tactics regarding the infamous Tent City, where inmates were allegedly treated inhumanely, embarrassed and had their civil rights violated, especially the immigrant population. The Phoenix News Times continued its journalistic duty to the public by editorializing the information, as it unfolded.
After an outcry by the public, and 24 days later, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey were released from custody. They both filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County, Arpaio, and the Selective Enforcement Unit, which was settled for $3.7 million. The immigrant community was slowly undermined during Arpaio’s tenure as sheriff.
However, human rights groups, including the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund, have pulled together to stand for justice among those in the immigrant community. The Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund was created with the $3.7 million settlement.
Trump’s pardon of Arpaio was a way for the former sheriff to position himself in a political position within the GOP. With his platform, Arpaio could reach millions. Read more: Lacey and Larkin Speak Out on Trump Pardon of Arpaio | Phoenix New Times and Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey Make The List of Civil Rights Protectors | Philly Purge
However, whatever agenda or platform Arpaio chooses, it will be met with the facts of misdeeds, alleged corruption, and a settled case of First Amendment Rights violation of two journalists doing their job.