What makes someone a real hero? That’s a question that sparks all kinds of answers. To most people, heroes are those who are willing to sacrifice themselves for a greater cause. In that sense, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin are most certainly heroes. The two of them achieved what many believed to be impossible.
Lacey and Larkin met in the early 70s after they both dropped out of Arizona State University. Lacey started a small weekly campus newspaper as a response to the ultra-conservative local media. Before long, that paper gain popularity and Larkin joined the team. Read more: Michael Lacey | Crunchbase and Jim Larkin | Crunchbase
After he joined the team, he and Lacey led Phoenix New Times to the number one spot. A few years later, they bought another newspaper out of Denver. That was their first step to building their multimillion-dollar media conglomerate called Village Voice Media. They ran VVM and New Times until they sold VVM in 2012.
As for Phoenix New Times, that paper was their weapon against a corrupt sheriff. Sheriff Joe Arpaio was described as a racist bigot who got off on persecuting Latinos. Lacey and Larkin stood against his abuse by revealing to the world how disgusting he really was.
The entire situation ended with him having them arrested in the middle of the night. Everyone in Phoenix knew Arpaio’s “Selective Enforcement Unit”. Basically, it was a team of heavily armed deputies that did Arpaio bidding whenever he wanted. He sent these deputies to Lacey and Larkin’s homes, where they forced the two men into unmarked SUVs.
Now, as surprising as that sounds, Arpaio’s actions are far worse. What made him hate Lacey and Larkin so much was their in-depth investigation into his life. They told the world about many of his misdeeds, lessening his reputation in the eyes of many.
The morning after their arrests, the rest of the country heard about what Arpaio was doing. They were immediately released and filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County. During the trial, more of Arpaio’s misdeeds came out. He repeatedly used fake subpoenas to silence his critics, including his assault.
By the end of 2012, the duo finally won their court case. They were awarded $3.7 million, which they used to support migrant-rights groups along the Mexican border. They started the Frontera Fund, which also helps advocate groups of freedom of speech.